The PSB has done some investigating to find out just how difficult it is to obtain a master’s degree at the faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences. They presented the first round of results during a faculty council meeting last week. In a questionnaire, sixty percent of 124 students said they would not finish the master in the allotted time.
But the faculty would like to see at least sixty percent of students finish their degrees in time. They have never reached that goal. At the sociology department, 25 percent of students finish in time, while at psychology only 40 percent does.
The faculty board says the delays are caused by voluntary decisions made by the students themselves. But the PSB survey points to a different cause.
‘These are just our first findings; the study is still ongoing’, PSB chair Anniek Kievitsbosch says, ‘but we’ve seen a trend where people take longer to finish their degree because their internship or thesis runs long. We feel that that’s different from students’ voluntary decisions.’
Faculty vice dean Klaas van Veen isn’t surprised by the numbers. ‘Many students do two masters at the same time. Others think a one-year master programme is too short. And some students have a job, which means they take longer’, Van Veen says.
The right questions
The issue has been previously discussed with exam committees, programme committees, study advisers, and the students themselves. Van Veen says he’s never had any signal of people having trouble with the actual programme itself.
‘But I am taking it seriously, and I hope to have more information soon. There are two possibilities: either the students have hit on something that we never noticed, or the students didn’t ask the right questions in the survey.’
The students will continue their study. ‘The low yield from the master programme can’t just be blamed on the decisions the students make’, says Kievitsbosch. ‘For now, we want the faculty to figure out where the problem comes from.’