News - March 14, 2018

Wageningen applies stricter selection on English for prospective master’s students

Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau,Stijn van Gils

Wageningen has a more stringent selection of master’s students than most other universities in the Netherlands. This was revealed by the Guide to Higher Education Masters that was published last week. Especially international students are regularly rejected because they do not meet the requirements.

Poor English has become increasingly less acceptable in Wageningen. © Resource

No less than 63 percent of the Wageningen programmes have additional requirements, the guide has revealed. The only more selective university in the Netherlands is Erasmus University Rotterdam, with 66 percent. The universities in Utrecht and Maastricht also have high requirements, while the universities in Delft and Twente have had the most lenient policies for years.

Experience with international students
According to relations manager Hermien Miltenburg, the reason Wageningen seems to be so strict is because WUR takes a critical look at students whom they want to haul in from abroad. ‘We want to make sure their English is sufficient and therefore require a language test. Sometimes we also set higher requirements to lab skills, for example.’

According to Miltenburg, many other universities have less experience with international students. They get into trouble more often due to students not being able to handle the programme, she explains.

In practice, it seems the selection goes smoothly for Dutch students. After a call to the study adviser, the Guide to Higher Education found that a language test often was unnecessary: English at the VWO level (highest Dutch secondary school level) turns out to be sufficient. This regularly happens in Leiden, Eindhoven and in Wageningen as well.

However, the requirements in Wageningen have become more stringent over the years, says Gijs Elkhuizen, study adviser for the master’s programme Forest and Nature Management. At WUR, all prospective master’s students must either pass a language test or have obtained at least a 6 (at VWO level) or 7 (at HAVO level) on their final English exam in secondary school. ‘We do not consider dossiers of students who have not yet passed their English language test anymore. We regularly have to reject students, including Dutch ones.’

Gerry van Nieuwenhoven, programme director of the master’s Communication, Health and Life Sciences, has relatively low accretion among international students. And yet, she regularly rejects students too. This is often because students have not properly understood what the programme is about. ‘They will come to us with a background in biotechnology and ask if they can study communications at WUR.’