Money movers


Which degree programs have the feel-good factor for Dutch employers?, an online career network for students, today announced the top 50. Among the leading ten, I see plenty of strategic management, business administration, econometrics and finance. To put it crudely, learning to move money around. Are these really the programs that the Netherlands and the world most need right now?

Oh wait a moment, at number 5 in the top 50, Delft's degree in Complex Systems Engineering and Management is sticking out like a sore thumb. Our university appears on the list one-and-a-half times. In second place is the Business Administration degree offered by TIAS, the business school that TU/e has a hand in, although to what extent these days, I can't say. Enough, let's say, to claim this second place as nearly our own; we can't afford to be choosy. And then, entirely our own work, we have our Operations Management and Logistics program coming in at forty-six.

And that's it. For the rest, employers are being charmed for the most part by Erasmus University (eleven programs), TU Delft (ten programs) and VU Amsterdam (seven programs). And what does the list have in the way of (semi-) exact science programs that excite Dutch industry? About seven or eight entries.

At a time of great demand for people capable of solving the pressing problems the Netherlands and the world in general are grappling with, I'd like to have seen a stronger science contingent. Or am I being naive? Perhaps these problems are not yet on the Dutch employer's radar, or are we going to manage our way out of the climate crisis with our spreadsheets and slick financial administration.

Incidentally, I think that if had asked employers in our surrounding Brainport region to express their preferences, we'd have a very different top 50. Demand for our graduates continues to be high and for some years now our university has wrestled with the dilemma of balancing the wish to continue meeting this demand with the wish to keep student intake manageable. Raising intake further will undermine the quality of our educational offering. But the mere mention of a ceiling on student numbers is enough to set hairs on end in our region's industry.  

Increasingly, our intake comes from abroad and this raises the question of where we will be in terms of balance in a couple of years' time. This academic year Dutch students still account for 65 percent of newcomers to our bachelor's programs; already 35 percent are foreign students. Given, say, three years, might this balance be fifty-fifty? Not that this shift will cause Brainport entrepreneurs any sleepless nights; English has long been their working language.

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