In the Netherlands, selection procedures at universities are not as common as in other European countries. However, this is about to change. The Dutch educational system is changing, pressuring students to improve their grades.

Halbe Zijlstra, State Secretary of the Ministry of Education, thinks selecting students will lead to less dropouts and could be a useful tool for programmes with too little capacity for the amount of applications. The Dutch parliament is increasingly criticizing the Dutch ‘zesjescultuur’, by which they point towards the fact that Dutch students are satisfied with merely passing their courses, with grades that are only just good enough.

A matter of tradition

In the UK and France, selection procedures have been a traditional part of university selection for centuries, whereas other European countries such as Germany and Sweden have introduced similar rules in the 1970s. The Netherlands is still behind and has trouble with implementing selection rules into the educational system. According to Rob Reneman, who was part of a commission that evaluated experiments on selection procedures in the 90s, this might be because of the deeply-rooted idea that everyone in the country should have equal opportunities when it comes to education. He also says that The Netherlands has not experienced problems around university capacity to the extent that other countries have, which could also explain the lack of selection procedures.

Lottery vs. decentralized selection

The Dutch educational system differentiates between lottery and decentralized selection procedures. In a lottery, students are randomly chosen based on their high school grades. Decentralized selection entails that students have to actively apply for a university, for instance writing a motivation letter. The comments of the Dutch government indicate that Dutch universities might increasingly use these procedures in the future. An example on EUR: from the academic year of 2012-2013 onwards, IBCoM will select all of its 150 students itself, through a decentralized selection procedure. In the past, IBCoM had a half decentralized, half lottery procedure.  

Law drops selection procedure

In contrast, Erasmus School of Law (ESL) is getting rid of its lottery selection procedure, and in stead will accept any student that applies for the coming academic year. In previous years, the targeted amount of students wasn’t reached, or was only just reached, which made the selection procedure lose its purpose. Maarten Kroeze, dean of ESL, thinks this will not lead to an overflow of first-years the coming academic year, as in 2012-2013 the faculty will also implement a new small-scale, case-based learning programme, which has lead to less students applying at other faculties in the past. He expects the same to happen at the faculty of Law. IS