Another four programs to get a ceiling on student numbers

For the academic year 2019-2020 TU/e will request a ceiling on student intake for another four programs. Board President Jan Mengelers will make this announcement this afternoon at the opening of the Academic Year. For Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics and the track Psychology &Technology the maximum number of Bachelor's students will be set in December for the coming academic year.

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Jan Mengelers will also emphasize this afternoon that further growth in future will only be possible if the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science adds 50 million euros annually to the 200 million that TU/e currently receives. Without these additional resources it is impossible, in his opinion, to guarantee the quality of the education provided, because doing so requires hiring more academic staff. According to the Board President that won't be at all easy in the current climate, in which industry is competing for the available talent.

Bow wave

With 285 first-years, Architecture, Building and Planning is already seeing a ‘bow wave’ this year, says Mengelers, while the cap for next year will probably be set at 225. For Mechanical Engineering, he believes, the problems lie mainly in the Master's phase. With the growing intake from the Bachelor's, students are struggling to find a research group from which to graduate. “Students are already finding this difficult and the problem will only increase if we don't restrict the intake to the Bachelor's now.”

Mengelers reports that discussions are still being held with Mathematics about where to set the cap. “The Departmental Board is certainly of the opinion that a ceiling on intake is also necessary in their department. But as to how many more students should still be admitted, that is still under discussion. Two factors play an important role: the fact that Mathematics also provides education as a service for other programs, and that two programs are offered at this department. Alongside Mathematics, there is Computer Science & Engineering, which already has an intake ceiling this year.

Quality of education

According to Mengelers, without these limiting measures the total number of students in 2023 would climb to 16,000. At present, some 14,000 students are expected for the academic year 2022-2023. “And with the people, the facilities and the resources that we think we'll be able to provide, that is absolutely the maximum. Because otherwise there would be no guaranteeing the quality of the education provided, which we think we need a lecturer-student ratio of 1:17 to safeguard. We can only start thinking again about more growth if we receive extra resources from the ministry. I advocate that engineering and technology programs receive the same funding as medical programs; some 14,000 euros per diploma issued. At present funding stands at half that. And don't forget, this is not a problem exclusive to Eindhoven, the other universities of technology are struggling with it too.”

That industry will again react critically to the announcement that even more Eindhoven programs are introducing a ceiling on student numbers is something Mengelers understands. “But at least they know why we have to do this, and that ultimately it is about the quality of the engineers we provide.”

Mengelers says that TU/e is currently also in discussion with industry about helping to resolve the shortage of lecturers. “We are looking at whether people in companies can be trained as lecturers and can be released for a couple of hours a week to come and give lectures here. It goes without saying that industry would want compensation from government for this, so this is something that still needs to be discussed with other parties.”

For the four programs currently nominated for a ceiling on student intake the definitive caps will be announced in December of this year.

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