Education = research?
Margot Tempelman: Manager HZ Research Centre for Coastal Tourism

"Research at universities of applied sciences is the engine to innovate education."

Research at universities of applied sciences is the engine to innovate education. This is quite a strong statement to start this column, but it is a known fact that research does lead to new insights. Perhaps initially not so much on the educational aspects, as on insights that play a role in society and on what trends and developments are taking place. As researchers, we have had much debate about the nature of the research. After all, higher professional education has no scientific task; we do practice-oriented research. On the other hand, we certainly contribute to science with this type of research.

The educational world had to get used to the idea. Does higher professional education now suddenly train researchers? Does the research only occur in the final projects and does everyone have to write theses now? Is that the contribution that research has had to education? Many hours were spent discussing this issue without bringing research and education any closer.

Much has happened since the start of the research groups and knowledge centres in 2002. Fortunately, research in universities of applied sciences has become a normal thing. Not that we stopped discussing what kind of research we do, but that’s good. However, the added value of research deserves explicit attention. For whom do we conduct research and when does such research have an impact? Finally, impact is the ‘new’ standard during the visitation of our knowledge centres and research groups.

The impact of research at universities of applied sciences is focused on the added value provided in the region where the UAS is established and the impact on the education. The more social the research, the more relevant it is for the social challenges of our region. Practical research is in line with this. Practical research is also important for our new educational concept SPO (Student and process-oriented education), where the practical assignments form the basis for the modules. Practice-oriented research has even more added value when building on knowledge together with the professional field in multi-year forms of collaboration. Together with entrepreneurs, governments, students, lecturers and researchers, building on knowledge results in innovation and solutions to social issues. In this way, students are at the same time prepared to start working in the professional practice, thus directly contributing to innovation.

Research and education have finally come together, for example with flexible curricula connected to new forms of education, driven by regional and (inter) national assignments. This creates learning networks and the education delivers the future-oriented world citizens that society demands. And society (governments, entrepreneurs, citizens) themselves also learn at the same time, which is essential for the innovative power in regions.

Research = education: with impact!