‘Matching works’

Checking whether an aspiring student matches a study programme is effective, education minister Bussemaker concludes. Why it works, however, is not yet clear.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

A questionnaire, a lecture, or a motivation interview: there are several methods to determine whether a study programme actually matches the talents of an aspiring student. Whichever method a university applies, research agency ResearchNed concludes on the basis of a national study, it is effective. Indeed, fewer university students drop out after the first year if they participated in the study choice check.

Which method works best is unclear, the research agency writes. Practically every programme has its own methods. The questionnaire about study choices and motivation is used most often, usually followed by a test, trial studying, personal conversations, extra information or group talks. ‘The activities are combined in every conceivable way’, according to ResearchNed.

The conclusions that programmes draw from these methods vary as well, from positive versus negative to extensive overviews using colour codes and flags.


The core objective of matching, however, is to bring down the number of students dropping out. In a letter to the Lower House, minister Bussemaker reports that it has succeeded in doing so. ‘Based on the research, it cannot be determined whether certain arrangements in the study choice test have more positive effects than others and, if so, which arrangements these are. However, a significant link between students taking the study choice test and the decrease of drop-outs has been shown in higher education, but not in vocational training’, according to the minister.

The vast majority of aspiring students are required to take a study choice test after they have registered for a programme. According to Bussemaker, more research is needed to better tailor the procedures to the various students.

In 2015, it turned out that 90 percent of aspiring RUG students were a proper match for their programmes. For some faculties, the number was even 100 percent.



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