Thursday 04 June 2020

Psychological pressure on first-year students: minister takes action

Delft students in the sunshine. Photo Przemyslaw Pawelczak

Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven is to introduce a limit to the amount of ‘points’ universities and colleges can demand first year students to earn in order to proceed to the second year of their course.

Students can collect up to 60 points in their first year and some universities require them to have the maximum points possible in order to pass. But Van Engelshoven told broadcaster NOS she considers the pressure being placed on students to be ‘too high’.

‘We have to prevent students from tripping up unnecessarily,’ she said. She wants universities to introduce a ceiling of 40 points for first years, saying that some are using the score cards as a way of weeding out slow students. ‘I do not want this to happen and so I am going to intervene,’ she told NOS.

The law will be changed in 2020, but the minister said she hoped universities would act now. Various reports have shown that the pressure on students has intensified since student grants were placed by loans and that first years have been required to pass a certain number of courses to move up to the next year.

‘Some students need time to adjust to their new lives and they should be given than chance,’ the minister said.


Pieter Duisenberg, chairman of the university umbrella group VSNU said the minister’s decision is ‘not sensible’.

‘A political decision was taken to increase the ambition and success of students in higher education,’ he said. ‘You can see that students are doing better. To turn that back now would not be sensible.’

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