Dropouts at UM


One in four students throws in the towel after their first year. Approximately thirty per cent of those who continue fail to graduate within four years.

Before the summer, the Education Inspectorate stated that far too few students receive their diplomas in tertiary education in the Netherlands. The main reasons are that students choose the wrong study and cannot manage the pace or the level. Compared with other Dutch universities, Maastricht does not come off too badly in the analysis for 2002-2007. Maastricht University was in fourth place in 2007. The technical universities of Wageningen, Twente and Delft, however, manage to hold on to most students.

Despite the good results, the Maastricht Executive Board wants to reduce the number of dropouts, according to a recent memo entitled Bachelor survival and completion rates at UM. Policy official Hans Ouwersloot was asked to write this memo. Sources of concern are European Law School, Knowledge Engineering, Law, Fiscal Economics and Econometrics. The first, an international study at the Faculty of Law, showed a dropout rate of 41 per cent in 2007; Fiscal Economics even sees more than half of its first-year students leave.

The completion rates are based on the estimate that students successfully finish their bachelors studies within four years, so including one year of delay. In this respect, the UM also scores well; approximately 70 per cent of its students get their diploma on time. The national average, 45 per cent, is much lower. Nevertheless, the memo states that again European Law School, Knowledge Engineering and Law will have to improve in this area.

Improved admission procedures might be a solution. Students need to know what they can expect. Furthermore, staff should be (even) more involved with students, so that they feel a closer bond with the institute. This could be done, for example, by introducing mentors or academic advisors. Another plan is to organise exit interviews with students who drop out.


Wendy Degens

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