Thanks to the Rotterdam Arts & Science Lab, students can combine academic studies with art or music education. A unique programme in the Netherlands. But wyh do the EUR, Codarts and Willem de Kooning Academy offer this double degree?

In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to study in two programmes. Ten years ago you could easily add a couple of extra years to your study to take an extra bachelor’s or master’s programme. But now, measures such as the student loan system, the cut-off point between bachelor’s and master’s education, and higher tuition fees have made a second study practically impossible. In the meantime, universities have started to offer more options to combine two study programmes. For example there is the mr. drs.-programme combining economics and law programmes (four diplomas in six years!), or the Philosophy Double Degree, where by studying for one extra year, you can also obtain a Philosophy diploma.

Will nominal become even more normal? Will problem-based learning self-destruct? And how can students be better prepared for a changing labour market? Six experts share their thoughts on what the higher education landscape will look like ten years from now. Read the other predictions next week on our website or in EM #5.

Dancing scientists

The newest programme in this trend, and unique in the Netherlands, is the Rotterdam Arts & Science Lab (RASL), enabling students in an academic programme to also simultaneously study in a fine arts or music programme. According to Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens, one of the initiators of RASL and programme manager at Erasmus University College, a wider exposure to other academic disciplines is one of the chief goals of these programmes. It’s more than just linear thinking where if one academic programme is valuable, a second one must also be valuable. “We try to bring together two vastly dissimilar disciplines.”

The academic of the future

Noordegraaf-Eelens is currently working on a research proposal that will explore what the academic of the future will look like. She believes a more comprehensive approach will play an important role. “The academic of the future will have mastered multiple disciplines or will transcend disciplines. This academic can for example use a philosophical or legal perspective to look at a problem dealing with economics and understands how these disciplines interact within society. This kind of versatility is conducive to collaborative leadership. I believe all successful academic programmes will move in this direction.”

'Universities are quite conservative'

“My concern is that universities are so research-driven that there’s only room for the educational status quo,” says Noordegraaf-Eelens. That could impede the development of more comprehensive education programmes. “If you compare curricula from past decades, very little has changed in the content or the pedagogical principles. Universities are quite conservative. As EUR, we can do better.”

RASL Eveline van der Duim wdk-ibacs
A (former) student of the Rotterdam Arts and Sciences Lab Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

Eveline van der Duim (18) combines Graphic Design with an International Bachelor of Arts and Culture Studies (IBACS)

“The university’s deadlines are further away than the deadlines here, so sometimes other things get in the way of the university work. I expected combining these two programmes to be easier, but they keep me busy the entire day. I attend lectures at the university two days a week and on the remaining days I’m at Willem de Kooning Academy.”

“A graphic design programme places a lot of emphasis on practice, so occasionally I have to cycle to Willem de Kooning after a university lecture to continue work on an assignment. This means long hours and sometimes I find that very difficult, but on the other hand I really enjoy it so I don’t mind putting in the work.”

“I always had trouble choosing between a university or a fine arts programme, even though my preference was for the art academy. I felt that it suited me better to learn how to use your surroundings as an artist. But RASL was an ideal option because now I didn’t have to choose. I wanted the in-depth learning and theory a university would offer me, but I also wanted the opportunity to realise my potential as an artist.”

“The first phase of both studies is fairly general in nature so I haven’t been really able to combine the two yet. That’s something I hope to do later on, integrate research into social issues with my art. That would be a dream come true.”


RASL Lucas Vermeer codarts-euc
Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

Lucas Vermeer (18) studeert aan het Erasmus University College en doet Toetsen bij Codarts

“Twee studies tegelijk gaat erg goed. Aan het begin was het lastig om de draad op te pakken. Beide studies waren nieuw, en er verandert al zo veel na de middelbare school. Ik kreeg veel voor mijn kiezen. Maar nu loopt dat eigenlijk best wel lekker.

“De beide studies zijn goed op elkaar afgestemd en sommige vakken kan ik voor beide studies laten gelden. De tentamens zijn ook goed verdeeld over het jaar, dus dat is qua planning ook wel fijn.

“Ik wilde altijd graag muziek maken en daar groot in worden, maar ik durfde dat niet aan en wilde het ook niet, want het is moeilijk om daar geld in te verdienen. Dus toen koos ik voor mijn op een na beste keus: EUC. Die mailden mij vervolgens met de boodschap dat het mogelijk was om naast EUC aan Codarts lessen te volgen. Dat was voor mij een uitkomst.

“Het liefst zou ik in de muziek groot willen worden: met een bandje de wereld over touren en liedjes schrijven. Ik probeer nu wat geld te verdienen met het begeleiden van koren, maar het is nog best lastig om geld te verdienen in de muziek, dus ik ben blij dat ik het EUC als back-up heb.”

RASL Jet Keijzer conservatorium-ibacs
Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

Jet Keijzer (20), Voice at Codarts and IBACS

“I can take five years to do the two studies. At university I can get my propaedeutic diploma in two years, doing one course per period. At the conservatorium, I do around eighty percent of the courses.

“Sometimes it’s quite hard. For example, I now have two weeks of exams at the Conservatorium, then a week of exams at university. This Monday I had to sing and perform, on Wednesday I had a theory exam and on Thursday piano.

“When I auditioned for this programme, I initially didn’t think I’d been accepted, so I applied for cultural sciences. Eventually I learned that I had been accepted and was enrolled for two programmes. That’s how I ended up at RASL.

“I don’t necessarily want to go into the professional world of music, but I think doing something besides IBACS is instructive and it’s a great environment to make some good contacts. Later I think I’d like to do something with my brain. The music world is a hard and difficult world, particularly if you really want to make a name for yourself.”

RASL Gabija Bubnyte wdk-euc
Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

Gabija Bubnyte (18) combines EUC with Graphic Desing

“The first time I came in contact with graphic design was while reading an interview in a teen magazine. The interview was with a girl who studied graphic design. I can’t remember much of the interview, just that from that time on I wanted to be a graphic designer.

“The last years I’ve been living in Luxembourg. When I was reading up on art schools with a graphic design study, I came across Willem de Kooning Academie. All the good studies about graphic design are in The Netherlands, so it wasn’t such a tough choice. I love the country, the atmosphere and that there are bikes everywhere.

“I applied for Willem de Kooning first, when I got in I received a letter with the information about combining graphic design with EUC. I just went for it, it didn’t even take it into consideration. This was exactly what I was looking for.

“The social aspect in both studies is what I’m really drawn to. At the Willem de Kooning open day, a girl presented a game she designed during her study. The game’s main goal was to prevent children to join gangs. That’s exactly what I want to do, use the knowledge from EUC and Willem de Kooning to be a social designer. So I can really contribute to society through art.”