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University Council students against selection for masters

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht students have also signed the recent ‘pressing letter’ from the Interstedelijk Studentenoverleg ISO (national student union) to the education minister and university association VSNU. That is, some of the students - those representing Dope, the party that is linked to ISO.

ISO’s claim that all students in Dutch university councils unanimously joined the protest against the selection for the master’s programmes is therefore somewhat exaggerated, says Michael Dijkstra, member of the University Council on behalf of Novum, the party linked to competitor LSVB on a national level. He “actually didn’t know anything about it.” But he does agree with the content of the letter. Just like, naturally, fellow council member Olav de Wit from Dope.

The stumbling block is the possibility of universities selecting students for all master’s programmes in the future. A completed bachelor’s study as such would no longer be sufficient. This policy has not yet been introduced at the UM, and as far as the students are concerned, there is no need to do so either. De Wit: “What is actually the reason for selecting more strictly? Dutch universities are good and the UM in particular has low drop-out rates for master’s programmes.”

They both think that it would be a disqualification of bachelor’s programmes. Dijkstra: “Obviously, it is no longer enough for admission to a master’s programme. On the other hand, if you pass your bachelor’s of Psychology with a six, then you have passed. It is strange if additional requirements have to be met in order to be admitted to a master’s.”

In some cases, selection is unavoidable and therefore acceptable. De Wit: “We are then talking about small master’s programmes, with a limited number of places available. After the bachelor’s of European Law, there is a broad master’s of the same name, and students should be able to just continue on with that, but for the master’s of International Laws, it is a different story.”

Both believe that if universities are to select at all, it should not be just on the basis of grades. Dijkstra: “Motivation and extracurricular activities should also be considered.”

De Wit: “Take someone who graduated with an average grade of 7.4 and who did a lot outside the study programme, such as committee work, and on the other hand a student with an 8 who did nothing else alongside the study. It should be possible to regard those as equals.”

Dijkstra, however, does have an additional comment: “For Novum it is in particular about accessibility of higher education. If you include work placements and similar aspects in the selection process, then you must realise that students from higher income groups can more easily decide to do work placements and take a little longer to complete their study programmes. These are the effects of the borrowing system, which should be taken into account when selecting.”

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