More and more pupils are taking expensive preparatory courses to improve their selection chances for university programmes such as medicine. Minister Jet Bussemaker and universities themselves have expressed concern that this will further widen the gap between rich and poor. Erasmus MC is even offering a free course to counter this trend.

The costs for a commercially offered course can vary from 45 to 425 euros. It’s like doping, said one participant to the Netherlands Broadcasting Authority NOS.

Educational institutions should offer these kinds of course themselves, added Bussemaker. There’s also room for improvement in career counselling at secondary schools. That will ultimately make the courses offered on a commercial basis unnecessary.

Free preparatory day

Erasmus MC’s Medicine programme even offers a free preparatory day focusing on the selection process, in the hope that young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods will have the same chance of being selected as children of affluent parents. Anyone registering for the programme in Medicine will receive an invitation for this preparatory day.

The Inspectorate of Education sounded the alarm in the spring of this year: children of less educated people are less likely to go on to study than children with highly educated parents. The Senior Chief Inspector was said to be shocked by these findings.