Student - August 17, 2018

Fewer international registrations English bachelors than expected

Luuk Zegers

The number of international students attracted by the five English bachelor’s programmes is much lower than was expected. This was revealed by the preliminary registrations figures which were published on intranet.

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Predictions assumed one hundred and fifty international students, but the actual numbers seems to lie between fifty and seventy-five. Food Technology and Environmental Sciences have attracted a relatively large number of international students: approximately one in seven (19/141) and one in five (12/56) of the enrolled students for the respective programmes come from abroad. Animal Sciences (4/100) and International Land and Water Management (4/65) are not faring well, and Soil, Water and Atmosphere is still stuck on a single international student (1/63).

‘The international bachelor’s programmes are new. We lack the experience to properly estimate what to expect’, explains Frank Bakema, manager of education & student affairs. Bakema emphasises that the current figures are only preliminary. ‘Prospective students from the EU still have until August 31 to register, so there might be changes there.’ He does not want to speak of a disappointment yet, not even for Soil, Water and Atmosphere. ‘Such a process requires a start-up period to eventually achieve a more stable inflow. This applies to every new education programme and could take a couple of years.’

International classroom
The image of the ideal composition of an effective international classroom for a master’s programme currently looks as follows: around 33% Dutch students, around 33% EU students, and about 33% students from the rest of the world, with various nationalities among the students from abroad. According to Ralf Hartemink, programme director Food Technology, the question is whether this is a realistic expectation for international bachelor’s programmes. ‘The Dutch will remain somewhat predominant in the bachelor’s programmes, obviously. But we strive for a good mix, where no nationality really dominates.’

‘Higher expectations’
Gerrit Epema, programme director Soil, Water and Atmosphere, is somewhat disappointed in the preliminary figures. ‘I had higher expectations of the international registrations. Of course, these are preliminary figures, so it may end up a bit higher, but it’s not very probable we will reach ten anymore.’ This is a setback, especially with the international classroom in mind. ‘But most courses are given together with other programmes, so there is a bit of an international classroom after all’, says Epema. He still stands behind keeping Soil, Water, Atmosphere in English. ‘It really befits the programme.’

The danger is present, if there will indeed be but a single international student in Soil, Water and Atmosphere, that the remainder will speak Dutch with each other. ‘To be clear: we do expect the Dutch students to speak English in our educational setting’, says Bakema. In addition, language education such as Social Dutch will be used intensively, so that international students can also get along more easily in the social field.

‘Very pleased’
Ralf Hartemink, programme director Food Technology, is satisfied with the international inflow for his programme. ‘These are good numbers, and the students come from many different countries. We have students from Lithuania, Switzerland and Bulgaria, but also from Japan and Mexico, for example. A good mix of nationalities.’ He does not want to speak of an international classroom yet, but according to Hartemink, the current number of international students already provides a different dynamic. ‘You cannot expect to achieve a programme with 33% Dutch, 33% EU and 33% international students in a single year. That takes time. But we are very happy with these results for a first year.’

English speaking university?
According to Bakema, anglicisation in itself is not a goal of the University. ‘At other universities, it sometimes seems like they switch to English programmes just to attract more international students and thus reap more money. That is not the thought behind it here.’ He emphasises that Wageningen provides education about internationally-oriented global issues. ‘Climate change, global food issues, you name it. You have to place the anglicisation in that context.’ The five English bachelor’s programmes are a pilot. After three years, there will be an evaluation, based upon which it will be decided whether the university will continue to anglicise, and if so, how.

Preliminary registrations five English bachelor’s programmes (reference date: 13 August)
NL students Int. students Nationalities
Food Technology 122 19 15
Environmental Sciences 44 12 9
Animal Sciences 96 4 5
Int. Land and Water Management 61 4 5
Soil, Water, Atmosphere 62 1 2

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  • nibba

    beter gaat het aantal internationale studenten naar 0, het ruikt altijd naar curry of bami in de college zalen.