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Use of Quality Improvement Funds

From Fall Term 2011/12, university tuition fees in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) have been replaced by the Quality Improvement Funds provided by the state of NRW. As previously the tuition fees, the funds are intended for the improvement of teaching, university courses and studying conditions. The ‘Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Qualität in Lehre und Studium an nordrhein-westfälischen Hochschulen’ (Act for Improvement of Quality of Teaching and Study at Universities in North Rhine-Westphalia) forms the legal basis of this system.

The Act also determines the appointment of a Quality Improvement Budget Committee, acting as a consulting body for the improvement of teaching and studying conditions as well as general quality improvements.

In accordance with the basic organisation of the University of Cologne, individual Faculties have their own Quality Improvement Budget Committee which decides on the use of the Quality Improvement Funds. At the WiSo Faculty, this Committee consists of the Dean, the Vice-Dean of Studies, the Vice-Dean of International Relations, a representative of the academic staff and five student representatives. 

Information of Quality Improvement Funds

In the fall term of 2011/12, the WiSo tutorial model was introduced as a tool to point the way to an active learning culture. These kinds of tutorials are intended to support students in being autonomous and responsible for their own learning within small groups, and to encourage continuity in their work throughout the term.

Particular value is placed on the tutorial-like character of the tuition – working in smaller groups, a high level of interactivity and personalised feedback to other students. The so-called ‘homework model’ is a special feature of the WiSo tutorial model: in addition to the tutorials, weekly exercise sheets are handed out which can be submitted independently of the tutorials.

The WiSo Faculty has made use of Tuition fees, charged from fall term 2006/2007 to spring term 2011 based on legal frameworks, to establish a number of successful measures for the improvement of teaching and studying conditions, which are now continued through the Quality Improvement Funds. For example, by employing student assistants, the large department libraries now offer longer opening hours.

The WiSo IT Services provide support and advice for four PC Pools in the WiSo building as well as at the Information Systems department in the ‘Pohlighaus’ which has a total of 174 workstations. During term at least one of the Pools (usually Room 10 in the WiSo building) is open and freely available for students Monday to Friday between 8 am and 8 pm, and during term break between 10 am and 6 pm. These opening times as well as general IT services are also made possible through student employees paid for by Quality Improvement Funds.

In order to further improve teaching, particularly in areas of high demand, a number of lecturer and other academic positions have been created and continued. This also applies to both professorships in the areas of Macroeconomics and Microeconomics with their ever-increasing teaching load, originally created through Tuition fees and now covered by Quality Improvement Funds.

Advice and service structure

Since the introduction of the Tuition fees, the WiSo Faculty has developed an excellent advice and service structure in the areas of study and teaching. This includes:

Programme Management with the areas Student Services, Degree Programme coordination and KLIPS Administration.

Programme Management has been assigned to the Vice-Dean of Studies who receives support through the three areas mentioned above for managing university courses and their further as well as re-development. Course coordination involves programme management, organising the degree course, communications work and coordinating the committees for the degrees in Business Administration, Economics and Social Sciences. The KLIPS Administration is responsible for the preparation of the course catalogue, course registration and the Migration Campus Management project.
The WiSo Student Service provides important services for students, prospective students and members of the WiSo Faculty. The Student Service works in close collaboration with other faculty and university services. Its main activity lies in providing centralised information and advice in relation to the various bachelor, master and diploma degrees, as well as education degrees and Cooperation Programmes, which are connected to other faculties in terms of their focus on economic and social sciences. One important component of this is the WiSo Student Service’s online portal. Furthermore, the Student Service presents the degrees offered by the Faculty at Student and Education Fairs as well as open days at the University.

WiSo-Career-Service

The aim of WiSo Career Service is to be the first port of call for both students and potential employers when it comes to questions relating to the career-finding process and career entry. Through cooperation and exchange, the offer for students and graduates is supplemented by the aspect of focussed support during the process of finding a career and the transition to the profession, in addition to teaching and student counselling. In addition to the students, WiSo Career Service has also identified potential employers of students of the faculty as a target group. Therefore it is important to develop and implement projects together with employers from different industries with different job profiles and correspondingly different needs and to enter into sustainable, long-term cooperation. 

Centre for International Relations

The Centre for International Relations coordinates the international activities of the WiSo Faculty and has the task of promoting the development and implementation of new internationalisation strategies of the Faculty and carrying out the operative business of international student exchanges. The focus is on international exchange and study programmes, study programmes for foreign students, institutional memberships in renowned networks, partnerships with selected universities and business schools worldwide and international cooperation with companies. 

Further information regarding Quality Improvement Funds can be found on the University’s website.