The director of education Tiny van Boekel is open for discussions about excellence, but he does not think that the Honours Programme should be accessible for everybody. He says this in reaction to the letter of the three Wageningen students.
Last week Robin van der Bles, Jelske de Kraker and Carina Nieuwenweg wrote an open letter in which they plea for a less exclusive Honours Programme. They state that more students than are currently allowed to follow the programme, seek extra challenges in their studies. The three students want the university to work on an Open Honours Programme, where ‘everyone that wants and can, gets a chance to work on their excellence.’
Van Boekel, director of the Education Institute, says that he thinks it is ‘wonderful’ that there are students that want to optimize their study. ‘But first I would like to know what kind of image people have of this Open Honours. There are all kinds of activities such as the Studium Generale and all sorts of summer schools. If they mean something like this with the Open Honours it seems fine to me. But is it however worth emphasizing that in principle not everybody should be able to follow the Honours Programme.’
According to Van Boekel the Honours Programme is selected to pick the best students. ‘I would like to allow everyone to do such a thing, but selection simply means that some people will be refused. If we had systematically unjustly refused some of the better students, I would agree with these students. But I have no indication that we did not select correctly. When setting up the Honours Programme we carefully thought out the selection criteria and the selected number of students.’
The fact that there is a discussion about the Honours Programme is desirable according to Van Boekel. ‘Apparently there are different ideas about excellence and I think it is always good to discuss them. But it is important to first discuss what the concept of excellence actually means.’