Science - January 22, 2004

Do international students fare worse when it comes to writing a thesis?

International students score slightly lower on their graduation theses than Dutch students according to the university statistics. The difference is a mere three percent, and is based on all the thesis results of the previous academic year. Wb asked around whether there is a real difference or not.

Dr Erno Kuiper, Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group:
“To be honest, if I look at my students I do not see the figures reflected. I supervise many Chinese students, and this group in particular does good research and they write good reports. They go to China in the summer for their experiments and then they come back to finish up here. Some are a little uncertain at the beginning, but after a while they show enough initiative.”

Dr Peter Ho, Environmental Policy Group and member of the admissions committee for environmental sciences:
“There are indeed some students who manage to get through the course work, but then come unstuck when it comes to writing a thesis. They produce something that is unreadable, because they lack the intellectual and language skills to write a decent report. As a member of the admissions committee I find this an alarming development. But there is little we can do as it is only in the final stages that things start to go wrong, and at that point we cannot send students back. We have to improve admissions procedures.”

Dr Henny van Lanen, coordinator of the MSc programme in Hydrology and Water Management:
“It is tough enough for Dutch students to complete their studies within five years, which is why you see a peak in graduations between November and January. Foreign students also face difficulties in finishing their Master’s within two years. Muggen’s statistics are not reflected in the students I see. One of our international students graduated with distinction a couple of weeks ago.”

Guido van Hofwegen