Commendable visitation report Public Administration: ‘Now moving forward with wind in our backs’

An international visitation committee has judged the research programme of the Institute of Public Administration of Leiden University as excellent. The report, which looked at the period 2014-2019, was published last week.

The programme was screened on three levels: quality of research, social relevance and viability. With two of the highest scores (1) for social relevance and viability and one of the second highest scores (2), the outcome is a source of smiles and pride. ‘We can now continue to do what we want with the wind in our backs,’ says scientific director Bernard Steunenberg.

‘The review committee now sees us as world class. We must now continue to live up to this in the years to come. The fact that we have come so far is something we have worked hard to achieve and I am very proud of that.’

World class

Steunenberg sketches the situation before and during the time the report is about: ‘We have had a dynamic period within the institute. Think for example of the autonomisation of ISGA a few years ago. We have now left that hectic time behind us. We have developed further and the review committee now sees us as world class. We must now continue to live up to this in the years to come. The fact that we have come so far is something we have worked hard to achieve and I am very proud of that.’

Innovative

Continue with the vision that has been started. This is also recommended and mentioned in the report. For example, linking important themes in the field of public administration to major social issues. ‘Together with other faculties, we are ready to start working on this. We have chosen four major themes on which to collaborate. The themes are Artificial Intelligence and digitalisation, sustainability (which includes developments such as greening and energy transition), population health management and citizenship, migration and global transformations. We are working on this in an innovative way and we want to continue doing so and, of course, maintain it.’

‘We have thrown open our doors by moving to The Hague and actively seeking cooperation with public organisations around us. This has led to all kinds of exchanges, cooperation and connections with which Bestuurskunde contributes to thinking about questions within the public sector.’

Social impact

The report is also positive about the choice of the institute to move to The Hague. This is expressed in the score for social impact and relevance, explains Steunenberg. ‘We have thrown open our doors by moving to The Hague and actively seeking cooperation with public organisations around us. This has led to all kinds of exchanges, cooperation and connections with which Bestuurskunde contributes to thinking about questions within the public sector. It is great to read that we have been able to do that. A nice compliment, I think.’

Getting started with recommendations

Now that the favourable report has arrived, there is no room for complacency. On the contrary. ‘We have several balls to keep in the air and want to continue developing our mission in the field of research, in addition to offering excellent education. This also means that we must continue to seek a balance in the various challenges’. This is why Steunenberg wants to work with the recommendations of the committee. ‘We must ensure that everyone within the institute excels and uses his or her qualities to ensure that we achieve our ambitions. That may mean that one person wins a major grant, another ensures a publication in a splendid journal and yet another does research with, for example, the Lower House. That may sound easy, but in practice it is complicated. We will certainly take up the gauntlet. ‘

‘I certainly learn from the report, but I also see it as a photo. It is a flash, a snapshot. We are in a good position now, but we have to move forward.’

Snapshot

Some recommendations have already been set in motion. Such as PhD supervision. Steunenberg: ‘The report says: pay extra attention to that. We have now appointed a PhD dean so that we quickly know when there are problems or when more guidance is needed, and the discussion is started more quickly. I certainly learn from the report, but I also see it as a photo. It is a flash, a snapshot. We are in a good position now, but we have to move forward. And we are doing so with the wind at our backs.’

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