The education committee of Biotechnology and Molecular life sciences have requested a numerus fixus. They believe that the tumultuous growth of the bachelor study is threatening the education quality.
Photo: Guy Ackermans
Both studies have grown fast in the past years. Biotechnology had 52 first year students in 2011 compared to 108 this year. In the preliminary applications for the coming year the study has increased again. The number of Molecular life sciences first year students grew from 44 in 2011 to 92 new students this year. The overwhelming interest of students concerns the education committee. Last November the open day attracted seven hundred interested people, while the visitor numbers before were around three hundred. Also the number of students joining a ‘walk along’ day has increased.
‘We can handle it if it grows a few percent per year’, says Sonja Isken, education director of Biotechnology. ‘But if another 20 to 30 percent joins two more times, we really have a problem.’ It is not possible to take on new teachers and to change the whole schedule in time. Also the quality of the practical labs could be jeopardized, says Wilko van Loon, education director of Molecular Life Sciences. ‘It would no longer be possible to have students work in groups of two but three. Which is a reduction in the quality of education.’
The introduction of numerus fixus is a lengthy process. The measure needs to be approved by the educational institute of Wageningen University, the Board of Directors and employee representatives. The numerus fixus can therefore be introduced earliest in September 2017. Due to this lengthy process, the request has already been made, Isken explains. If the applications are less than expected, they can still withdraw it.
The bachelor studies coordinated this step together, because their enrolment figures are ‘communicating vessels’. Also the studies partially receive each other’s dropouts. ‘Six to seven students that received a negative binding study advice for the Molecular life sciences, started our study this year’, says Isken. Only one student decided not to return. ‘Even though we expect that students that do not succeed in one study will also dropout in the other.’ The phenomenon is less common the other way around. Only one biotechnology students with a negative study advice switched to Molecular life sciences.
The number of first years in the total student population of Wageningen has been growing steadily for years. Yet, until now only one study applied the numerus fixus. Nutrition and Health only allows 130 (now 140) students in since 2014.