Utrecht bridges gap with cross-college freshers’ week

Students clustered together while studying outdoors.
Photo: Depositphotos
Students clustered together while studying outdoors.
Photo: Depositphotos

Students at vocational colleges in Utrecht have joined university and HBO college students in traditional freshers’ activities for first time to ‘bridge the gap’, the organisers have said.

During the UITweek, first-years are introduced to the city and each other through activities and events but until now MBO students had not been invited to the party.

Vocational education has been struggling with an image problem for many years. Yet some 40% of the working population have an MBO diploma and some 500,000 MBO students start college course each year.

‘We need to bridge the gap between MBO and HBO and universities. This is the beginning of student life for all students, and we hope it will promote a better understanding and bring about more communication between students,’ Adam Thorpe of vocational college council MBO-sr030, told broadcaster NOS.

While the inclusion of MBO students in the introduction week is a step forward, they are still barred from other activities open to ‘regular’ students.

They cannot join student associations or fraternities and are not allowed to go to bars which require a student pass. That led to a demonstration on the doorstep of popular student bar De Kneus in Utrecht last week.

‘We decided to set up our own student association,’ Lotte Welten of MBO student group RSHV  told the broadcaster.

It’s a shame that it is necessary to take this step, Welten said. ‘We all study in Utrecht and we all like to do the same things.’ Some 200 MBO students are participating in the Utrecht UITweek.

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