Strong decline in intake numbers for pre-master’s programs

Only 109 new students were admitted to a pre-master’s program this academic year. A strong decline compared to two years ago, when four hundred students with a degree from a university of applied sciences started with their pre-master’s program as preparation for a master’s degree program at TU/e. Paul Koenraad, dean of the Graduate School, says that he is quite shocked by this and that he wants to start looking into the causes of this sudden sharp decline soon.

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The sharp decline in intake numbers for TU/e’s pre-master’s programs came as a suprise to Paul Koenraad. “We saw a decline in intake numbers of almost fifty percent last academic year, from 400 – which is the usual number – to 215, but that number has reduced by another fifty percent this year, even though we expected it to stabilize. That came as quite a shock to me.”

Koenraad believes that the decline in intake numbers can in part be attributed to the TOEFL language proficiency test, which students from applied sciences universities are required to take to demonstrate English language proficiency at pre-university (vwo) level, as well as to TU/e’s own mathematics admission test for a number of its pre-master’s programs. “We’ve introduced these tests to increase pre-master’s students’ chances of success,” Koenraad says. “At Computer Science – where these entry requirements were introduced at a much earlier stage – we initially saw a decline in intake numbers, followed by an increase, as well as a significant improvement in academic performance among this group. The students who are admitted are the more successfully performing students. This proves that the selection mechanism works.”

Job market

The program Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences decided not to introduce a mathematics admission test for its pre-master program, Koenraad says. That is why they currently have the highest number of new pre-master’s students: 44, more than half of the total intake. [An earlier version of the article stated that IE&IS had also refrained from introducing the math test, which was incorrect: IE&IS does use the math test.]

Koenraad says that he wants to start looking into the causes of this sudden sharp decline soon. “We can’t rule out the possibility that the current tight job market also has something to do with it. Graduates from applied sciences universities have no trouble finding a job these days, which is why they might decide not to continue with their studies at a research university. But I don’t rule out the possibility that the admission requirement tests play a role as well. And if that turns out to be the case, we should assess those again too.”

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