Internationals angry about failing grade for Medical Dutch exam

International medical students are frustrated by the grading of their Medical Dutch exam by the Language Centre. Of the sixty-one third-year students, forty-six failed the test that grants access to the master programme.

The Language Centre developed the exam for the medical faculty after it raised the requirement for language proficiency from level B2 (normal) to C1 (difficult).

But the molecular medicine and global health students who took the exam don’t understand why many of them scored zero points on the writing part, while they passed the speaking part. They also haven’t received any feedback, so they don’t know what they need to improve, write sixteen of them in a letter to the Language Centre.

The students are afraid that they will now fall behind, because the exam can only be taken three times a year.

Earlier complaints

In a second letter to the faculty, the students further state that the faculty did not take sufficient action on earlier complaints about the language policy. They say that the criteria are unclear and that the corona pandemic has had a negative impact on the quality of the course and their ability to practise the language.

Anna Nysingh, coordinator of the section Dutch at the Language Centre, says in response to the students’ complaints that a score of zero does not mean that someone cannot write Dutch at all, but that level C1 has not yet been reached. ‘The answer may be correct, but it is not at the level you expect. It could be between B2 and C1.’

According to director of the Language Centre Anje Dijk, students don’t get detailed feedback on exam questions to prevent the answers from leaking out. ‘That’s common practice; otherwise, the whole test would need to be redone.’

Individual assessment

In order to accommodate the students, the faculty has now decided to assess students who failed the exam individually, says Jan Kuks, chairman of the admission committee of the master programme.

Some students are now allowed to work on the hospital floor despite not having passed the writing component, while others have been offered a free course to improve their Dutch.


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