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Selection for Medicine completely online

Council expresses concerns about unequal opportunities

MAASTRICHT. Anyone who wants to start the study programme of Medicine in Maastricht in September 2021, will have to do the selection procedure completely online, writes Mirjam Oude Egbrink, scientific director of the Education Institute, in a letter to the faculty council of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences.

There are two selection rounds. Normally, prospective medical students would fill in an online portfolio. This contains such things as a CV, answers to questions about Problem-based Learning and a homework assignment that also enables them to learn more about the study programme.

The best seven hundred candidates will then move on to the second round: a selection day in Maastricht. There they will carry out a number of tasks that should prove whether they have the aptitude for the core competences of a doctor.

That part will now also be online. The selection committee hoped for a long time that the day could actually take place in the MECC, but considering the present restrictions, that will not be possible. The school-leavers will take the tests at home, while they are monitored via proctoring. In order to get used to the procedure, they can take a mock exam first. There is also a helpdesk available throughout the day.

During the faculty council meeting on Tuesday afternoon, various members expressed their concerns that the online selection would lead to unequal opportunities. “I think that there is a huge difference between a student doing the test in a cramped attic, worried about the Internet connection and noisy neighbours, and someone who lives in a large house and who has the opportunity to withdraw in a quiet corner,” says student member Juul Hennissen.

He would like to see the university offering prospective students the possibility of taking the exam on campus. Something that the selection committee deliberately did not choose. “Everyone ends up on the same list of candidates, even the foreign students who want to take the International Track,” says Esther Giroldi, chairperson of the selection committee. “They can’t come to Maastricht because of COVID-19. If you offer the possibility of taking the test here, you are offering Dutch students preferential treatment. The differences between candidates are often very small, if you create different exam-taking circumstances, that could influence the list of candidates.”

“We did actually want to carry out a lottery in the second round,” Mirjam Oude Egbrink adds. “Then everyone would have had the same opportunities. But legally, that wasn’t possible. Unequal opportunities always exist. If someone has grown up with parents who are doctors, that person has an advantage. But when people feel that the university has treated them differently than other candidates, you find yourself facing an appeal case. We have to make do with what we have. That is why we will inform the candidates two weeks beforehand. Hopefully, they will then have the opportunity to find a quiet place, for example, at their secondary school or at the home of an acquaintance.”

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