U4 European University Network Academic Leadership Programme

The U4 Network is a strategic partnership between the universities of Groningen (the Netherlands), Ghent (Belgium), Uppsala (Sweden) and Göttingen (Germany). It’s aimed at increasing cooperation between the four universities, creating international leadership networks and developing and sharing knowledge and experiences among them.

The U4 Academic Leadership Programme is organized to foster an exchange between leaders (at the level of deans and directors) and consists of four sessions of three days around themes like leading talent development, identity, quality and complex change.

Sprockler was used to evaluate the programme and investigate its impact. The general outcome of this evaluation shows that the programme was highly successful, with a significant achievement of the established aims and a high overall rating: all participants stated the programme should be repeated.

Additionally, many stories were shared about examples where things learned during the programme were applied in real life. The success of the programme is a mix of factors, including content, group dynamics, session design, quality of speakers, facilitation, logistics and social events.

An example of the stories shared can be found below. Participants were asked to share stories about learnings from the programme that they put into practice. The questions below were used to give meaning to these stories ( ‘Who do you think noted the example you just described?’ and ‘The story I shared described …’). The dots represent the answers. To allow participants to share multiple stories, the story question was asked three times and the colours of the dots refer to the number of the story. We have highlighted one person’s responses here: the bigger dots show this person’s replies and their stories can be read at the left side.

This image shows that many of the stories dealt with middle to long-term change and that direct colleagues, the department/faculty as well as top management noted this difference. This shows us that the things learned during this programme were not only useful for one specific group or topic but were applied in various areas of the universities. It also shows us that they had middle to long-term effect. This gives us information about the impact the programme had on these universities.

After this first successful evaluation using Sprockler, the U4 Network used Sprockler to evaluate the programme after every new cycle. Sprockler’s Han Rakels, who is responsible for part of the programme, wrote an article about the added value and results of these evaluations. Read the full article here. (Dutch only)

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