Intake down slightly at TU/e this year

At Dutch universities student intake remains largely unchanged this year, thanks to foreign students, provisional counts reveal. At TU/e, the latest figures from the BI Portal show a slight decrease of some 65 first-years compared to last year, a change attributable wholly to the reduced intake of Dutch students.

photo Arthimedes / Shutterstock

At the Dutch universities it seems to be business as usual. In all probability, this year there will be just as many first-years as last year when, incidentally, there were more first-years than ever before: more than 65,000. The intake of foreign students is included in this figure, though their exact numbers are not yet known. The number of foreign students coming to the Netherlands continues to show an upward trend.

At TU/e intake appears to be down slightly this year. According to the university's BI Portal (accessible only via intranet and with authorization), some 65 fewer first-years have come to Eindhoven this year; 2,089 compared to 2,154 last year. This drop is due entirely to the strong decline in the number of Dutch first-year students. Last year they numbered 1,645 and accounted for 76 percent of all first-years. This year 1,357 Dutch first-years are expected to join us - 65 percent of all first-years.

The number of foreign first-years continues to increase strongly at TU/e: last year they numbered 409 and this year they number 732. This increase is going a long way to compensate for the drop in the number of Dutch students. The decline in the number of first-years is spread fairly evenly across all programs, the BI Portal reveals.

Legal means

For years now, the universities have been asking politicians for more legal means to manage their intake, says Pieter Duisenberg, president of universities association VSNU, in explanatory notes to the national figures. “Other countries steer their intake in this way.”

The Senate, the upper chamber, is due to discuss a legislative proposal giving the universities more control over their intake. It would enable them to run the English-language version of a program as a restricted-intake program, which in turn would enable them to put the brakes on international student numbers in certain popular degrees. This legislative proposal, which is also intended to slow the rate at which higher education in the Netherlands is becoming anglicized, has been put on ice by the senators while they await the appointment of a new cabinet.

At TU/e last year, the Mechanical Engineering Department stood out in being concerned that its bachelor's program would this year have more foreign students than it could handle. This fear prompted the decision to return this year's program to bilingual status and require foreign students to demonstrate NT2-level proficiency in the Dutch language. In a University Council meeting at the time, Vice President Nicole Ummelen called this move “an emergency solution”. As recently as October 2020, University Council faction Groep-één voted against this emergency provision and was in favor of introducing a restricted intake, which is thought to be fairer for foreign students. According to the BI Portal, only six foreign first-years are expected this year at Mechanical Engineering. So the emergency solution seems to have had the desired effect.

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