Medicine students who have been selected through an application procedure are less likely to drop out during their studies than students who have been selected by lot, a study by Erasmus University shows.

The grades of both groups are similar, but the drop-out rate among selected students is 2.6 times lower. Erasmus University compared 389 selected students with 938 ‘normal’ students. All started their Medicine studies between 2001 and 2004.

In Holland each year more high school students sign up for Medicine studies than there are available positions. Therefore, a lottery system was designed and up until the year 2000, every single high school student who wanted to study Medicine was subjected to this lottery. That situation was criticised often, especially after one ‘straight-A’ girl was eliminated by the lottery three times while she had the average mark of 9.6 for her high school exams. Therefore, since 2000, students with an average high school mark of 8.0 or higher have been admitted automatically.

In addition, universities were allowed to select a part of their new students themselves. Yet, critics argued that a student’s motivation is not easily measured and initially it seemed the selected students did not do much better, as their exam results were similar to those of the ‘lottery’ students. However, it has now appeared that selected students study faster and that drop-out rates are lower among this group. Furthermore, they do more outside their curriculum. As with other universities, Erasmus University has cognitive abilities as an important selection criterion. Those who have done volunteer work or those who have a side job as a health care worker have the edge over others.