Fewer students at the UG, decrease is the largest in Groningen

The number of enrolments at the UG has decreased this year to 35,730, nearly 3 percent less than last year. The downturn in Groningen is greater than elsewhere in the country.

About a third of the decline can be explained by fewer students registering for more than one programme. At 34,401, the number of unique students is 1.8 percent lower than last year.

The decline, however, is mainly in the registrations for the master programmes. These went down by 8.2 percent this year (to 4,116). The number of bachelor students has also decreased, but less significantly. 187 fewer students enrolled, making a total of 7,012, a decrease of 2.7 percent.

Particularly painful is the fact that the UG is shrinking faster than other universities in the country. The national share of the UG has decreased from 10 to 9.7 percent. This also means that the UG receives less funding from the student volume resources, with which the government finances the universities.

PR abroad

The decline has several causes. For example, the number of international students is significantly lower: 9 percent in the bachelor programmes. This was expected, but the decline is sharper than predicted. ‘We think this is because PR activities abroad have been halted’, said rector magnificus Jacquelien Scherpen on Thursday during the committee meeting of the university council.

The introduction of a so-called application fee, which international students only get back if they finalise their pre-registration, could also play a role, although other Dutch universities (that do not have such a fee) also see a decline.

Basic grant

The UG had expected a higher influx of Dutch students this year because of the reintroduction of the basic grant, but that didn’t materialise. Although more first-years did take a gap year after high school, fewer new students received a diploma because the relaxation of the final exams that was introduced due to the Covid pandemic has been revoked.

The largest declines are seen at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE), the Faculty of Economics and Business, and Law. Their student numbers fell by 6.6, 4.6, and 9.3 percent, respectively. This is mainly due to numerus fixus programmes that attract fewer students. FSE recently decided at the last minute to abolish the numerus fixus of a number of programmes.

Master students

The decline in master enrolments is even greater than in the bachelor programmes. Before the summer, the UG was still expecting more Dutch master students.

A decrease of as much as 6.8 percent – and even 20 percent at economics and business – is therefore a setback. Moreover, only the UG is dealing with this. Nationally, the UG goes down from a share of 8.8 percent last year to 7.9 percent this year.

Campus Fryslân, behavioural and social sciences, religious studies, and medical sciences are performing well.

‘Hard cut-off’

The UG suspects that the reintroduction of the ‘hard cut-off’, where students must have completed their bachelor’s degree before starting a master’s degree, plays a role. Many students leave for the Randstad after their bachelor’s degree.

‘You see this especially at universities on the edge of the Netherlands’, said Scherpen. ‘Even though I read recently that you’ll have the most difficulty finding a job with an Amsterdam master’s degree.’

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