MAASTRICHT. University College Maastricht once again received high praise in the latest edition of the Keuzegids guide to higher education. With a final score of 9.4, UCM left the sixteen other Maastricht programmes included in the ranking far behind, and can rightly call itself the best bachelor’s programme in the Netherlands. Knowledge Engineering (7.8) and the recently established Maastricht Science Programme (7.4) also performed well in the ranking.
Dutch Law did less well, dropping from fourth to eighth place (from a score of 6.2 to 5.2). Complaints emerged about the academic training, the number of contact hours and the facilities on offer. In addition, the programme has one of the highest first-year dropout rates. By contrast, the other law programmes assessed in the Keuzegids – European Law School and Tax Law – both came out on top. “I don’t understand”, says law faculty dean Hildegard Schneider. “We saw the results of the student survey on which the Keuzegids is based. As far as I recall our three programmes weren’t all that far apart. It might have something to do with the higher dropout rate, but the fact that we have a tough first year is not something I see as an issue. In Elsevier [a university ranking published in late September –Ed.] the programme was ranked much better: second place.”
As for the poor score for facilities, Schneider says, “I don’t get that at all. The students of European Law School rank those same facilities as above average. They’re the same classrooms, the same computers, the same library. I’ll need to have this analysed. I intend to invite the director of Keuzegids to look into it.”
Based on their scores, European Studies (5.2, but still in first place) and Biomedical Sciences (5.4, in fifth place) do not stand up particularly well either. Programmes like Economics and Business Economics (7.0), Econometrics (7.0), International Business (6.8) and Psychology (6.6) may not all top the rankings, but their figures are more than acceptable according to Maastricht standards.
Medicine, traditionally UM’s Keuzegids show pony, has been underperforming for some time. Similar to last year, it manages to scrape into shared fifth place with a 6.4. There, too, complaints emerged about the academic training and information provision. The Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences has been working to improve its curriculum for some time, not only for medicine but also Biomedical Sciences.
Both UCM and Knowledge Engineering received the quality label ‘Top programme’, which the Keuzegids awards only to programmes that receive a mark of 7.6 or higher. In the coming year a total of 52 bachelor’s programmes in the Netherlands can officially call themselves ‘top programmes’.
Of the general universities, Radboud University Nijmegen came out on top. Wageningen was ranked in first place among the smaller, more specialised universities, while Tilburg knocked UM off the top spot in the young universities category. Rotterdam came in at number three.
The differences compared to September’s Elsevier ranking (Dutch Law is an exception) are not that big. Elsevier looks only at student evaluations, whereas the Keuzegids also takes into account how quickly students graduate, how many contact hours they receive and what experts think of the programmes.