Science - April 15, 2004

Wageningen wants entrance exam for Chinese BSc students

Wageningen University wants to test the knowledge of the Chinese BSc applicants before they arrive here. These are the students who do their first two undergraduate years at the Chinese Agricultural University and then enter the second year of the Wageningen BSc degree course.

The first group of Chinese students in Wageningen for their BSc are having great difficulty in following the programme because of their lack of background knowledge and insufficient command of English. A delegation, which will include rector Professor Bert Speelman, will visit China in May to come to new agreements with the Chinese Agricultural University on improving the quality of the courses and the quality of the students coming to Wageningen. “We want to establish precisely what students must have learnt at certain moments during the course. We also want to do some of the teaching in China,” said Speelman during the Student Council meeting on 31 March.

According to Rien Bor, responsible for education marketing, the plan is that students will take entrance exams in July. If they fail they will not be allowed to come to Wageningen. The exams will be given by teaching staff from Wageningen. Before being allowed to take the academic entrance exams, however, the students will have pass an English language test first. The language tests this year will be organised by the Netherlands education support office (NESO) in Beijing, but held under the auspices of the British Council.

Dr Huub Haaker of the Laboratory of Biochemistry and member of the joint representative council suspects that cheating went on during the language test last year in September, where Neso invigilated. The majority of the students passed the test, while the level of their English is low. Dr Theo Lexmond, coordinator for Environmental Sciences, comments: “I have a student with somewhat strange language test scores: for the first IELTS test the score was a three, for the second IELTS a six, and for the Oxford quick placement test in Wageningen the score was 35 percent, which corresponds to a three again.”

Bor’s reaction: “I can’t exclude the possibility that there was cheating, or that scores were manipulated, as the British Council was closed due to Sars. We have no proof, though, so I am sticking to the explanation that the fluctuations in scores were caused by the intensive training that the students received in the weeks before the second test. The director of Neso in China has assured me that it will be impossible to cheat during the test this year.”

Guido van Hofwegen

Re:act