Organisation - October 5, 2016

Environmental Sciences on the rise

Roelof Kleis

The bachelor’s programme Environmental Sciences has more than twice the number of first-year students it had in the previous year. Management, Economics and Consumer Studies remains the largest bachelor’s programme.

All but four bachelor’s programmes are growing, as is shown by a comparison of the registrations at the end of September with those of last year. At the moment, we have 1604 first-year bachelor’s students walking around on campus. That’s 131 (8.9%) more than a year ago. However, the numbers fluctuate strongly per programme (see table below). Four bachelor’s even saw their numbers diminish. Management, Economics and Consumer Studies, the largest programme, is one of the bleeders.

Despite this decrease, the programme remains in the lead, just in front of runner-up Biology – the programme with the largest increase in absolute terms. Biotechnology and Environmental Sciences also show an impressive growth. For Environmental Sciences, this 60% increase is not just huge, it was also entirely unexpected. ‘We did not do anything in particular to achieve this’, says programme director Theo Lexmond. ‘In the past three years, the number of first-year students fluctuated around 35. The 56 students we now have are a change in trend. Of course, the question remains whether this will be a lasting change.

We did not do anything in particular to achieve this.
Theo Lexmond, programme director Environmental Sciences

For that matter: Environmental Sciences has attracted much larger numbers of students in the past. Lexmond: ‘In the 90’s, when it was still called Environmental Protection, we even had years with 150 first-year students. But we have also had years in which there were only 15.’ He does not find the influx of students alarming for now. ‘In the first semester, students follow courses that are shared with other programmes. Programme specific courses follow afterwards. We still need to see how we will tackle that.’

Other strong growers are the "underdogs" Communication Sciences and Agricultural and Bio Resource Engineering, which grew 46 percent and 36 percent respectively. Communication Sciences made considerable progress last year with the Future City Challenge, a competition for students in secondary school. This seems to have borne its fruit. Tourism grew by 27 percent and is the second-smallest bachelor’s programme, after Communication Sciences.

The largest losses were noted in Public Health and Society, which saw a decrease of one fifth of its first-year student numbers. Plant Sciences, Molecular Life Sciences and the previously mentioned Management, Economics and Consumer Studies also shrunk.

Numbers of first-year students by bachelor’s programme
Management, Economics and Consumer Studies 162 169 -7
Biology 158 133 25
Nutrition and Health 149 138 11
Food technology 148 136 12
Biotechnology 131 108 23
International Development Studies 86 80 6
Animal Sciences and Aquaculture 85 83 2
Molecular Life Sciences 85 92 -7
International Land and Water Management 78 66 12
Soil, Water and Atmosphere 73 67 6
Forest and Nature Management 68 58 10
Public Health and Society 63 80 -17
Landscape Architecture and Planning 61 56 5
Plant Sciences 60 65 -5
Environmental Sciences 56 35 21
Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy 51 44 7
Agricultural and Bio Resource Engineering 38 28 10
Tourism 28 22 6
Communication Sciences 24 13 11
total 1604 1473 131