The exam has always been an obstacle for first-year students, with a typical pass-rate of only 40 to 45 percent of students. This time, only 34 percent of Dutch students and 33 percent of international students managed to pass. ‘We’re not sure what’s behind the drop’, says Don van Ravenzwaaij, the course coordinator for the international track. ‘We think it could be due to the lack of decentralised selection.’
Because there was no selection process, 1,400 students enrolled in the psychology bachelor this year. Students who would otherwise have received a warning for not having enough maths during high school were able to start the programme with no problem. ‘If you normally filter out the 25 percent of the students that are less motivated or weaker, it would make sense that this has something do to with it’, says Van Ravenzwaaij.
An analysis of the test itself did not lead to any conclusions. There were no wrongly-worded or especially difficult questions. Van Ravenzwaaij doesn’t think it has anything to do with the teaching of the course, either. The group of internationals was split into two’, he says, ‘because they didn’t fit into one room together. But that doesn’t mean they get less attention.’
Due to a lack of space, however, some classes were taught in rooms that weren’t ‘ideal’, and the programme doesn’t always have enough laptops for the students to use. The faculty hopes that reinstating the numerus clausus, and the decentralised selection with it, will prevent this issue from happening again next year.
What worries Van Ravenzwaaij is that some students apparently think that the university is deliberately trying to bring in as many students as they can – whether they’re qualified or not – only to have them fail immediately. ‘Some students asked me point blank,’ says Van Ravenzwaaij. ‘But I heard the same murmurs in the educational committee.’
It’s absolutely not the case, he says emphatically. ‘I feel really bad for the students who failed the exam. I’m almost tempted to make it easier for them, but that wouldn’t be fair on the students who took the exam before. But I swear we’re not hear to make life as difficult as possible for students.’
In an earlier version of this article, the quote ‘If you normally filter out the 25 percent of the students that are less motivated or weaker, it would make sense that this has something do to with it’, was translated inaccurately from Dutch – giving the wrongful impression that all students are weak or unmotivated.