A quarter of academic departments subject to a numerus clausus is attracting fewer students this year than they are prepared to admit, meaning that no admissions lottery or selection had to take place.
So far, 18 of 48 departments subject to a numerus clausus have received fewer applications than the number of spots available, according to the latest preliminary figures released by DUO, the Education Executive Agency.

Medical schools continue to be very popular and have had to reject quite a few applicants. At present, some four thousand prospective students have applied for admission to medical school, even though only 2,785 students will be admitted, meaning that nearly one in three applicants will see their dreams quashed. The odds of being admitted to Utrecht University’s School of Veterinary Medicine are even less favourable: it is likely that two in three applicants will have to apply for admission to another degree course.

Make room for others

Other departments, too, are being swamped with applications, but definitive enrolment numbers may still be subject to change as applicants will change their minds or turn out to have completed the wrong secondary school profile for admission to the degree of their choosing, in which case others will take their places.
And that really does happen. Take, for instance, EUR’s Communication & Media degree. Last week, it looked like 314 prospective students had applied for admission to the course, whereas only 210 spots are available. This week, the number of applicants dropped to 211. Likewise, last week Delft University of Technology received 657 applications for its Aerospace Engineering degree course, only 465 of which remain this week, with 480 spots available.

Departments with a limited student intake are allowed to select all their first-year students on the basis of aptitude and motivation. The great majority of such departments do just that. Even so, nine departments admitted some of their first-year students through admissions lotteries this year and six departments even admitted all of their first-year students in this way. They will not be able to do so next academic year, when admissions lotteries will be abolished.


The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf this week predicted ’chaos’ at departments subject to a numerus clausus due to the abolition of admissions lotteries. The paper wrote that adolescents will now have to apply for admission months before graduating from secondary school. Take medical schools, for instance, where prospective students have to apply for admission by 15 January, something prospective students may not be aware of.
Whether the prediction turns out to be true remains to be seen. Medical schools have used the early 15 January deadline for several years now and so far, it has never resulted in any chaotic situations.

Universities of applied sciences offer many more degree courses with a limited student intake, but more than half of these courses never fill up. Courses with a lot of applicants include oral hygiene science, forensic science and creative media & game technologies.