Mechanical Engineering remains popular despite intake restriction

The number of advance registrations for the bachelor’s program of Mechanical Engineering is currently at 841 according to TU/e’s BI Portal. Apart from this program, TU/e has three other restricted intake programs next academic year. Prospective students have until tomorrow, January 15, to enroll in these programs. The number of foreign students among these advance registrants is increasing. How successful will future Dutch prospective students be at getting admitted?

photo Angeline Swinkels

According to TU/e’s BI Portal, which keeps track of the current number of advance registrations, today’s number for the bachelor’s program of Mechanical Engineering is 841. Among these advance registrants, 341 are from European Economic Area (EEA) countries, and 201 from outside the EEA. That leaves 299 Dutch advance registrants. It seems that even after the reintroduction of an intake restriction, ME’s bachelor’s program, where the cap is set at 360 first-year students, remains quite popular.


Professor Hans Kuerten, Program Director at ME, says that he saw the figures increase rapidly this week even. “The high number of EEA registrations might have something to do with the fact that they weren’t allowed to start with their studies last year and decided to postpone for a year.” That’s because the ME bachelor’s program is bilingual this year, which made it all but inaccessible to internationals. This decision was made because there were concerns over excessive intake numbers, which could cause problems for the department without an intake restriction. Kuerten: “But we see that other departments are growing too, so that definitely doesn’t explain everything.”

The number of Dutch advance registrations is about the same as a few years ago, the Program Director says. “We overhauled our information and recruitment activities in 2021, and it paid off. That proved to be the case as early as October, during our highly successful open day. And we also managed to organize some very successful shadow days on campus.”

Kuerten says that it remains to be seen whether the university will be able to admit a sufficient number of qualified Dutch students in the future. “We already made some changes to our selection criteria so that it’s fairer for Dutch prospective students. The 5 VWO report grades have become less important, because we know that these only predict the success rates of Dutch students and not of internationals. We are still looking for better selection methods. That process will take a few years.”

Front runner

For several years now, the bachelor’s program Computer Science & Engineering, where the cap is set at 325 first-year students, has been the undisputed front runner when it comes to the number of advance registrations. Professor Mark van den Brand, who has been acting as Program Director for a year, says that the number of advance registrations has once again increased significantly. He expects the number to eventually reach 1,500. Here, too, there is a significant number of internationals among the advance registrants, a trend that has been going on for several years. According to Van den Brand’s figures, the number of European advance registrations is currently at 679, with another 536 from non-EEA countries. Dutch advance registrants – 252 at this point – are a minority.

Isn’t Van den Brand worried that the contingent of foreign first-year students about to enroll is too large? “We certainly monitor that, and we’ve also been trying to take this into account during our selection procedures since last year.” As is the case for Mechanical Engineering, 5 VWO report grades are the least important factor during tests. “We also test students for calculus, logic reasoning and algorithmic thinking. On this latter point in particular, Dutch students often score well, which is why it weighs heavier with us.” The department currently also proactively approaches Dutch students with a high ranking who are eligible for admission. “That’s because students have two weeks to indicate whether or not they accept that admission, and it would be a waste if they were to miss this deadline,” Van den Brand says.

More popular

Some years back, Mechanical Engineering saw that an intake restriction had an immediate deterrent effect on student intake, which started to decrease dramatically. Van den Brand believes that his program in contrast only became more popular since the introduction of an intake restriction. Given the numbers, which have been steadily increasing over the last couple of years, he is right. “There is a similar trend going on at the computer science programs in Delft, Enschede and Groningen. Apparently, prospective students think of an intake restriction as some kind of proof that it’s probably a good program. Still, we do our best during our information and recruitment activities to present them with a realistic picture of what to expect here. Because it won’t do us or the student any good if a student decides to leave after one month because the program didn’t meet his or her expectations.”

Van den Brand also can’t say how many Dutch students will successfully enroll in his program in September. “Last year, 889 prospective students took the test, 256 of these were Dutch and 633 were internationals. In the end, we started with 323 students in September, 137 of these students are Dutch, 139 come from EEA countries, and another 47 from non-EEA countries.”

The ratio of international advance registrations to Dutch advance registrations is less extreme at Built Environment and Industrial Design, the other two TU/e programs with an intake restriction. At Industrial Design, Dutch advance registrants (151) even far outnumber foreign advance registrants (82).

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