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Holland: Abolish right to move onto master's degree

27 April 2008, 00:00

The unconditional access to a master's degree should be abolished, in the view of the Association of Universities in The Netherlands, VSNU. It hopes that bachelor's students will work harder when they lose the right to automatically move on to a contiguous master's programme.

The unconditional access to a master's degree should be abolished, in the view of the Association of Universities in The Netherlands, VSNU. It hopes that bachelor's students will work harder when they lose the right to automatically move on to a contiguous master's programme.

Every Dutch bachelor's programme has a so-called doorstroommaster. A graduate of the bachelor's programme Organisation Studies can continue directly on to the master's programme Organisation Studies. Bachelor's students of Fiscal Law are given unconditional access to the master's programme Fiscal Law after having completed the 'attached' bachelor's programme.

According to the VSNU, this right to continue in a contiguous master's should be abolished in order to intensify education in the bachelor's phase. Without this right, bachelor's students would be stimulated to get more out of their studies. After all, the VSNU argues, students do more when they have to 'apply for' a master's programme place.

A strange argument, in the opinion of Peter Essers, who is programme coordinator of both the bachelor's and the master's programmes in Fiscal Law. "The bachelor's diploma is a condition to move on to a master's programme", he says. "If you have problems with the level of bachelor's students, than you should do something about the exam requirements of that study programme. This is unrelated to whether or not you can move on automatically."

Tilburg University's rector Frank van der Duyn Schouten shares the VSNU's point of view. He does not expect, however, that abolishing the right to continue in a contiguous master's programme would mean that students at Tilburg University could be refused for such a programme. Only students who graduated by the skin of their teeth should be strongly advised against taking a master's programme.

The VSNU sees more advantages in a complete separation between bachelor's and master's programmes. This way, a university can make clear choices about the package of master's programmes it offers, and it will bring more diversity to master's programmes. Students, on the other hand, might need to have a good think about a specific master's programme before choosing it. [MF/transl.YV]

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