Leiden wins the battle for first-years

By Sebastaan van Loosbroek

Figures published last week by VSNU (the Association of Universities in the Netherlands) revealed that, by 1 October 2012, Leiden University had accepted over 400 students more than the year before.

This academic year, 3,847 first-year students started a bachelor’s degree programme in Leiden, which is 12.9 per cent more than in 2011. No other Dutch university experienced such a sharp rise. The VU Amsterdam suffered the greatest reduction: 16.9 per cent, i.e. almost 800 students. The total number of first-year students in the Netherlands dropped by 2.8 per cent.
There was a notable increase (8 per cent) in the number of international students, who often chose an economics course while the popularity of the health sector dropped considerably. Most international students came from Germany. The number of enrolments in language studies dropped by 12 per cent.
Another striking development is the enormous rise in awarded degrees: this academic year, 17 per cent more bachelor degrees were awarded than in the previous year, and 16.5 per cent more master’s degrees. According to VSNU-spokesman Bastiaan Verweij, this is because students were rushing to get their degrees. “They were threatened by the increased statutory tuition fee for long-term students and would have to pay an additional 3,000 Euros.” In his opinion, the huge intake of students in 2009 cannot be the main reason for this number: “Even if you take that factor into consideration, the rise in the number of graduates is still very large.”
Two weeks ago, confusion arose concerning the figures published by DUO, (the Education Executive Agency), as it was not clear which kinds of students could be called first-years. The VSNU defines first-years as students who were not registered at a Dutch university in previous academic years.

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