CLMN | Competition and selection1 November 2016
“But if there is no selection to get admitted, what is this study program worth?”, someone suggested at an international forum on academic matters. This point of view is typical of some cultures in which competition, selection and individual rewards are quite common.
France and its Grandes Ecoles system is a striking illustration of this. Although it is based on meritocracy, it also favours children from well-off family backgrounds who are streamlined to pass the competitive exams (concours). The same goes for the USA: I remember from my time as a senior in high-school (long ago…) the permanent competition there was among students to win titles like ‘Best sportsman/ woman’, ‘Best student’ (straight As grades), or ‘Best whatever’. Personal pride… I won the title for ‘Best-Dressed Couple’ with my dance partner in the Sweet Heart Swing event that year.
Also in business, the reward for the best sales performance is individualized and highlighted publicly. John as Best Salesperson of the Year gets all the honors and an individual bonus, primarily money. So there is no doubt in this case: whether student or employee, the winner takes it all. By contrast, in more group-oriented cultures, the bonus may not be individualized so much, but first shared with the group members. They will at a later stage reward their best performer individually, but with no big public show, as this may prove embarrassing for the person in question.
Many of our international students at TU/e come from highly competitive academic systems where merit, intellect, the right learning environments (but also financial aspects) form the basis for selection and competition within their educational systems. They come to the Netherlands for their studies, where, interestingly, there is no competitive, but rather an egalitarian mentality, especially in education. The famous ‘6-jes-cultuur’ (achieving a pass but no more than that), although somehow stereotyped, is proof of that.
However, more selection and more competition have recently been introduced on Dutch campuses in the form of various honor’s programs or university colleges, where individual excellence is encouraged and rewarded. At the TU/e, similar to the other technical universities, there are plans to fix a maximum number of students in certain disciplines, which may result in selecting the best students out of the larger group of applicants. Cultural influences and the globalization of education are having an impact on the traditional non-competitive Dutch school system. Let’s hope it will not drastically increase competition among students (not our cup of tea here), but rather develop into “coopetition” in the international classroom, the best learning environment in educating the international engineer at the TU/e.
For a while now, TU/e student Guido Buntinx and his friend Christophe Westerveld (student of Zuyd University of Applied Sciences) have been attracting a lot of attention with their 'electric beer crates'. Limburg's regional TV station and the TV news program Editie NL also got wind of their creative initiative. The short internet videos showing them riding along on the public highways have been watched multiple times.
The Department of Applied Physics needs to make significant savings: one million euros on a total annual budget of nine million. This was announced last week Wednesday by Departmental Dean Gerrit Kroesen at a staff meeting. The draft reorganization plan must be ready by the end of November and, says Kroesen, compulsory redundancies cannot be ruled out. The Departmental Council is holding talks today with the Departmental Office.
The fourth day of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia has come to an end and Solar Team Eindhoven is clearly leading the Cruiser Class. Despite earlier transport problems and the limited window for testing on site, TU/e solar car Stella Vie is performing in the outback “far beyond expectations”. With some 900 kilometers to go, a third world title seems almost a dead cert for the team from Eindhoven - but this is no time for complacency.
At this university there are students who are not taking any classes, but they are still forced to pay the full sum of their tuition fee. How is that? When you take a look at what they are doing instead of following courses, their reasons become clear. They form one of the most important cornerstones of the TU/e, they are the student board members and part of student teams.
Some rooms in De Plint in Luna are not yet ready to use and so the associations are having to put the brakes on some of their activities. The building contractor has run into delays and current expectations are that everything will be ready by early November. There is evidently so much stuff in the Bunker that it can't all be stored in Luna. Bar Potential hopes to open its doors around New Year's. The cultural associations have just moved from the Bunker to Luna.