Education Project Services: knowledge broker between students and society

Published on
March 13, 2019

Do you want to collaborate with students from Wageningen and utilise the academic knowledge and thinking power of Wageningen Campus? WUR’s MSc students are working in small groups on a project within the course Academic Consultancy Training (ACT). Twenty-one MSc study programmes are participating in this form of education. Read about Education Project Services.

Margriet van Vianen of Education Project Services: “We are a link between the university and society, a type of knowledge broker. Education Project Services connects students with companies who want to conduct research.”

How does this work exactly?

“At ACT, a multidisciplinary team of about seven students works on a topic for eight weeks. These are international students from diverse disciplines, each with their own perspective and knowledge. The student team had coach, who guides the process. An academic supervisor focuses on academic quality.

By working on practical assignments from real clients, the students learn how they can apply academic knowledge. This allows them to become acquainted with several organisations and job positions. This enables them to focus on their future position in the labour market. We call this “real-life learning”.

For companies, this is an easy way to gain access to academic knowledge. Since the students work in a learning environment, we require a certain level of involvement and an inquisitive attitude from the client. The client needs to be open to the diverse perspectives and critical attitude of the students. It also requires an investment of time. Organising a kick-off meeting with the students and being present during the final presentation of the project are part of this.”

Why would a company want to invite students?

“If you are looking for a fresh perspective of your organisation, then this type of research can work as a kind of reality check. A group of critical minds has an unbiased look at an innovative product, a technical system, health or sustainability claims, for instance, and views it from a completely different perspective. This could include market research or an academic analysis to support viewpoints. Students can work on an issue for which the entrepreneur does not have time or creative energy at this moment. As a company, you have the opportunity to learn about your potential employees and you can profit from the latest scientific insights in your field.”

Which companies can engage Education Project Services?

“All companies actually. From startups, who are often looking for scientific knowledge that they do not have, to large multinationals. We also work for local councils, water boards, and social (non-profit) organisations. Companies who have questions about their product and the market or upscaling can be connected with students in the MSc Entrepreneurial track, in which students develop their entrepreneurial skills.”

Education Project Services: knowledge broker between students and society

If I contact Education Project Services, what happens next?

“The staff at Education Project Services will first ascertain that the topic is within the realm of food and environment and will help refine the research question. After that, the staff will create a concrete assignment description. The topic may not be the perfect fit for the ACT course. However, since we also mediate real life cases for other courses in Wageningen, we will then look for a different course to ensure a better match.”

What does it cost?

“Education Project Services asks €50.00 for administration costs. Additionally, we ask the client to reimburse expenses incurred by the team during the project, for instance travel and printing costs. On average, these costs vary between €300-€800.”

Do you always manage to connect the question/assignment to Wageningen students?

“In the previous academic year, we received 550 questions/assignments, which led to 206 projects. The other questions we transferred to Student Career Services (SCS), but also to other divisions within WUR. SCS acts as a broker for internships and final projects. Sometimes the questions are not a good fit, such as questions that are not academic enough. We then refer them on to a university of applied sciences.”

Which university of applied sciences can I contact?

“For example, Aeres University of Applied Sciences, also located on Wageningen Campus, provides education in the green domain. They also offer options to have questions researched by students supervised by a lecturer or a lecturer-research associate.