In March, they will receive the draft version of the OER. Plenty of time to constructively think along

At first, things proceeded as follows: In May, the OC receives an e-mail with the draft version of the Education and Examination Regulation (Dutch acronym: OER). The OC gets three days to compose and release their advice. Complete panic! What are the thoughts of the Institute’s Participation Council? Is it even possible for any of OC’s advices to be processed in the final OER?  Let’s finally tackle that one malfunction with the OER, shall we?

Our reactive attitude is in the past
Five years ago, we, as the Study Programme Committee (Dutch acronym: OC) of Medical Imaging and Radiotherapy Techniques (Dutch acronym: MBRT), took on a reactive and almost instinctive position towards the OER. We passively anticipated the moment we received the definitive documents. Repeatedly, this moment took place a few days prior to the deadline, which offered too little time to study the OER thoroughly. As a consequence, the submitted advice was not of optimal quality.  We realised that the status quo was no longer an option; we were failing to secure/guard the quality of education.

Get involved at an early stage
We are transforming our attitude from a reactive one, to a proactive one. How? We set up a series of thematic meetings dedicated to the OER. This way, enough time was made available to go through and discuss the OER with all OC-members. Subsequently, we made sure that we were involved in the preparation process of the OER at an early stage.  For example, now we already receive the first draft version of the programme-specific sections of the OER in March. Our OC-members are then already able to study the draft version, and provide it with feedback. We discuss the education-specific sections thoroughly, whereas we go through the general parts more cursorily. We also put emphasis on the changes made in the OER compared with the previous year.  However, if something in the previous OER turned out to have unsatisfactory results, we will most certainly communicate this.

Verbal and written communication is most effective
In case of ambiguities, the OER-makers are invited to a meeting with the OC in order to clarify a number of issues verbally. We are convinced that written as well as verbal feedback to the OER-makers yields a more successful communication and integration of our advice.  As it turns out verbal as well as written communication is effective, we organise A) a meeting with exclusively OC-members in order to freely discuss and decide upon our standpoints. Once we have decided upon our main standpoint, we organise B) a meeting joined by a programme manager. In this meeting, we provide him with verbal as well as written advice.

Clarity about the planning
Furthermore, it is important that the schedule and the eventual deadline are announced at an early stage. We send out our advice regarding the first draft version of the OER to the OER-makers and the Institute’s Participation Council (Dutch acronym: IMR). This way, the OER-makers will also receive our feedback at an early stage, which can then be processed directly for the next draft version of the OER. Additionally, the IMR can take our standpoints into account in the process of formulating her preliminary opinion. Numerous remarks of the OC have already been processed in the version of the OER that is ultimately sent to us for advice. Through this method, we are able to provide the OER with sufficient advice before the deadline expires.

Good relationships are crucial
A good relationship and open communication between the OC, OER-makers and the IMR is of crucial importance in ensuring a smooth process.  For a while, OC-membership meant IMP-membership too, which worked well. It also helps that our student members generally stay in the OC for the entirety of their studies.  That is – apart from the continuity, a greater recognition and approachability – also advantageous for the relationships; in time, everyone knows each other well.

‘We used to have only half a week to think along’.