Wetenschap - 19 september 2002

Ba-Ma system requires flexible timetabling

Ba-Ma system requires flexible timetabling

International as well as Dutch students face a lack of information on course schedules this year. Although study coordinators supply every international student with a study programme for the first periods, problems are expected to arise when students need to plan their own programme later this year.

Room for free option courses has also become limited with the introduction of the Bachelor-Master system in which all courses are associated with a particular specialisation and worth four credits. According to the programme directors, flexibility will be needed to solve individual problems. Some students may even be advised to follow courses at other universities.

"The situation is worse than last year," says Shital Dixit from the International Student Panel (ISP). "Then students were supplied with a booklet with timetable information." According to Dixit such information is lacking this year. The study coordinators supply each student with a programme that tells them what classes they should follow in the first periods. "All our international students were referred directly to their study coordinators when they arrived," says Pim Lindhout, programme director of Plant Sciences.

Ren? Kwakkel, programme director of Animal Sciences and Aquaculture, is optimistic about the first periods. "At the moment we don't have many problems," he says. "For the first two periods we can offer every student a programme of the courses they can follow." But Dixit is not happy with the way things are going. "These programmes are fixed; there's no room for students to plan a study programme for themselves."

Another problem is that the study coordinators are not always available Dixit mentions. A lot of students haven't arrived yet, but when they do they won't be able to find information on their study programme unless they talk to a coordinator. Problems will really arise after the first periods, thinks Kwakkel. Then students will need to put together their own programme and the programme director is worried that students' options will be limited now that all courses are worth four credits and are associated with a particular specialisation. "And next year students will start their thesis, so they won't have time to follow courses on the side," says Kwakkel.

Lindhout thinks that the problems are inherent to the new system and can't really be solved. He thinks flexibility will be needed when making individual study programmes. Lindhout: "In some periods there are only a limited number of courses that can be followed, while other periods are packed. We will have to use our imagination."

Lindhout is relatively optimistic. "While other universities have not yet been adjusted to foreign students, Wageningen is doing fairly well in terms of internationalisation." Kwakkel however foresees the need to look around at other universities. "Study coordinators might have to search for courses at other places if a student is not able to follow courses of his interest in Wageningen."

Leonie Mossink

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