Where are all the students? Classrooms are hauntingly empty

Lecturers at the Faculty of Law are worried about their students’ well-being and their grades. They’re also worried about their attendance rates; students simply aren’t showing up to class.

‘Lectures that allow for 75 out of 120 students to attend are only attended by ten people’, says lecturer Pepijn Tukker. Only 50 percent of students show up to seminars, ‘and not everyone will have watched the lecture beforehand’.

Tukker has also noticed the students’ grades slipping, as has Marc de Groot with the Ten Behoeve van Rechtenstudenten faction (TBR) on the faculty council. He says students’ grades are ‘fairly depressingly bad’, with some courses only having a 44, 21, or 30 percent success rate.


Lecturer Frank Veenstra has also noticed how unhappy lecturers are with students’ lack of attendance and poor grades. He’s heard stories about guest lecturers ‘who’ll have travelled by train for two or three hours only to teach a class of just four students.’

One lecturer even drummed up colleagues to make their classroom look fuller, according to Veenstra. ‘It just looks so bad.’

The lack of attendance may not be due to online education, says director of education Jaap Dijkstra. He points out that the attendance numbers were fine during previous lockdowns. He suspects that students are making up for lost time ‘a little too enthusiastically’.


We also should take into account that it’s difficult for students to keep having to switch between on-campus and online classes, say study adviser Michelle Bokma-Calderón and professor Irene Burgers. They entail different kind of information processing, which might be another explanation for the poor grades.

Veenstra proposes a simple solution: stream classes, don’t record them. ‘Having COVID is not a reason not to stream the lecture. And students can always ask classmates who were present for their notes.’ He feels lecturers should therefore be able to decide for themselves whether they want to stream or record their classes.



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