Student - May 19, 2016

Growth in student numbers continues

Rob Ramaker

Wageningen University has 12 percent more preliminary registrations this year than last year. This suggests that the growth in the Bachelor’s degree programmes continues unchecked.

Photo: Guy Ackermans

Interest in Communication Science, a programme whose future is under discussion, has grown remarkably: from 12 preliminary registrations last year to 29 this year. Altogether, the Dutch universities had 11 percent more preliminary registrations by the deadline of 1 May, show statistics from Studielink. The Wageningen registrations have increased the most for several smaller degree programmes. Communication Science comes top with a growth of over 140 percent (17 more registrations than last year). There were 47 percent more registrations for Environmental Science (20), 58 percent more for Tourism (16) and 40 percent more for Agrotechnology (12). But there was increased interest in the bigger programmes as well. With 181 registered High School students, Biology looks to be heading for a record number of first-years. Two Bachelor’s programmes - Biotechnology and Molecular Life Sciences - applied in February for a cap on admissions from 1 September 2017. They are afraid too rapid an expansion would affect the quality of the education. With 151 preliminary registrations, Biotechnology exceeds its preferred upper limit of 120 first-years. With 94 prospective first-years, Molecular Life Sciences is below its intended upper limit of 100.

Wageningen University has a decade of turbulent growth behind it. In 2006 the university attracted 575 first-year students, as opposed to 1500 last year. But not all those registering by May really turn up in September, points out Henk Vegter, head of the Quality & Strategic Information department. He expects the growth in Wageningen this year to work out at around 8 percent. Nationally, that makes Wageningen about average. The fastest growth is seen at the Radboud University in Nijmegen (over 27 percent).

The preliminary registrations are cause for celebration in Communication Sciences. Wageningen University sees 20 students as a critical lower limit for its degree programmes. The Communication Sciences programme has only managed to reach this number once. ‘This is great,’ says Noelle Aarts, personal professor of Strategic Communication. ‘A small group of us have worked terribly hard at it. It is nice that our work is bearing fruit.’

The accreditation for Communication Sciences is due to renewal at the end of 2017. The idea is to mark the occasion with a new name for the programme, possibly Life Sciences and Communication.