Utrecht University to start testing new students on aptitude

Utrecht University is to start testing prospective new students on their aptitude for the study of their choice from the next academic year, the Volkskrant reports on Monday.

The aim is to ensure only motivated and ‘suitable’ students are admitted to courses, so improving the standard of education offered in Utrecht. The university is consistently rated one of the country’s best.
Prospective new students will take a digital test to check on their aptitude for their chosen study and be interviewed about their motivation. Students who are told they are not suitable will still be able to apply for a place, but the university hopes they will take its advice seriously.
‘The aim is to show that we demand quality,’ University rector Bert van der Zwaan told the paper. In addition, he said, other students might think ‘I am not at home here. I had better opt for a less demanding institution’.
Van der Zwaan said he would not consider it a problem if the introduction of the tests leads to a decline in student numbers (Utrecht has 30,000 undergraduates), as long as standards improve.
Many universities are upping their demands on students. For example, Erasmus University in Rotterdam now requires first years to pass all exams and course work in order to progress to the second year, the paper says.
In the Netherlands everyone who passes their pre-university school exams (wo) automatically gets a place at university, although popular courses may use a lottery.
Students with an average grade of at least 8 get priority placement on popular courses but there is little in the way of pre-course screening in the Netherlands. The first year drop-out rate is high at around 25%.

Is Utrecht right to screen prospective students? Have your say using the comment box below.

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