How do our management students rate the way in which UNamur tackles societal issues such as sustainable development and ethics? Do they feel that their training takes sufficient account of these aspects? Are they satisfied with the societal strategy developed within their faculty and UNamur? These are some of the questions raised by the PIR, the 2023 results of which have just been unveiled.
Evaluation by students
The PIR is unique in that it is a rating designed for students and coordinated by students. For UNamur, Jen Consult, chaired by Téo Camberlin, took part in the project. It is therefore the students who are being asked to evaluate their institution. The aim is to measure how educational institutions contribute to solving societal challenges. In concrete terms, the PIR asks students around twenty questions, divided into seven dimensions: governance, institutional culture, study programmes, learning methods, student support, role model and public engagement. At the end of the assessment, each institution is given its overall level of development in terms of societal impact. Five levels of performance are established: beginner, emerging, progressing, transforming, and pioneering.
For its first participation, UNamur, and more specifically the Faculty of Economics, Social Sciences and Business Administration (FSESG), where students took action to answer the PIR questionnaire, achieved a score of 6.7/10. This puts it into the third level of impact, 'progressing', just outside the fourth level, 'transforming'! The three criteria on which it particularly stood out were culture, governance and interdisciplinarity of training. This last criterion shows that questions of ethics, responsibility and sustainability are integrated into the training. "This ranking is very interesting for the evaluation of our actions and our management training programmes, since it is our students who give us their feedback. We see it as a real tool to help us develop and evolve", says Pietro Zidda, Dean of the FSESG.
These initial results show that our current and future initiatives, as well as our educational model, are responding favourably to the expectations of our students and our society.
A case in point? The "Learning by doing" reform implemented by the FSESG since 2019 is one of the strategic axes deployed to better meet societal challenges. It proposes an innovative teaching approach that places students in the driving seat of their education by enabling them to develop their skills in real-life or close-to-real-life situations. Applied to all students from the first year of secondary school in 2019, this approach takes the form of collaborative, cross-disciplinary projects, which become increasingly important as the student progresses through the baccalaureate.
"Learning by doing' also opens students up to a certain number of fundamental values that are dear to the UNamur and integrated into its Univers 2025 strategic plan, such as civic commitment, openness to the world, sustainability, and solidarity. For example, societal themes are addressed in the projects (sustainable development objectives, corporate social responsibility, climate issues, democratic challenges, digital inequalities, etc.) and a service-learning type civic engagement activity is offered to 3rd year bachelor students.
"We're heading in the right direction, and we're delighted that our students recognise this," concludes Pietro Zidda.
In terms of future development, the students surveyed recommended pursuing projects related to innovation, ethics and sustainability. They were in favour of maintaining teaching that raises awareness of the impact that students can have on the world. They would also like more attention to be paid to the energy efficiency of study facilities.