It’s a common sight with ‘numerus fixus’ programmes: a huge stack of applications, and a limited number of spots to go round. Rotterdam’s International Business Administration (IBA) programme is no exception. For example, while Amber van Workum was one of six graduates from her secondary school (Arnhem’s Stedelijk Gymnasium) to apply to the IBA programme in Rotterdam, only two candidates made it through. This got us wondering what the other four decided to do instead – assuming they didn’t decide to sit on their hands for a whole year?

IBA in Amsterdam

Julia Jagtman

When we spoke with the four who didn’t make it, a few of them didn’t seem particularly upset about failing to get into the Rotterdam programme. Take Julia Jagtman (18), for example. Although she was dead set on doing an IBA programme, Rotterdam wasn’t her first choice. “I was absolutely certain that I wanted to do an IBA. The thing I was less certain about, however, is that all the adults said I really should try to get into Rotterdam.” With all this outside pressure, she decided to apply to EUR at the eleventh hour – only a few days before the registration deadline. In Jagtman’s perception, she ultimately wasn’t selected due to the combination of a late registration and the fact that her CV didn’t offer much in the way of international activities. Instead, she tells us, she enrolled in an IBA programme in Amsterdam, which proved just the town for her. Although she is considering doing her master’s in Rotterdam.

IBA in Groningen

Suus Pleyte

Suus Pleyte (18) was in more or less the same situation. She didn’t particularly want to move to Rotterdam either, but also decided to apply here in view of EUR’s strong reputation. But Pleyte didn’t get in either – in her case, probably because her marks weren’t high enough. And like Jagtman, she wasn’t too sad about this: she actually preferred Amsterdam or Groningen anyway. Pleyte, half yawning while we speak over the phone: “After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to do the IBA programme in Groningen. I’m having a great time here: I’m just back from a fantastic fresher’s week, I found a place to live and I’ve even joined Vindicat.”

IBACS in Rotterdam

Ariana Jacobs

There’s a chance Ariane Jacobs (18) is less happy about how things turned out. She really wanted to study IBA in Rotterdam. Since she wasn’t that enamoured with Amsterdam, she eventually decided to enrol in a different programme at Erasmus University: International Bachelor of Arts and Culture Studies (IBACS). But compared to Jagtman and Pleyte, Jacobs is less sure that she made the right decision. “Of course, it seems to be an interesting programme, and I intend to round it off. But if it turns out that Arts & Culture isn’t really my thing, I’ll be sending in a new IBA application next year!” Jacobs suspects that she didn’t make this year’s selection because she was late starting on her application. She expects to have better chances of getting in next year.

PPE in Utrecht

David Hooft Graafland

David Hooft Graafland (18), finally, went down a completely different road after failing to get in Rotterdam’s IBA – in terms of both the programme and the town. He is currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at Utrecht University. According to Hooft Graafland, the international character of this programme is comparable to the IBA, and admissions were also subject to a quota. Oddly enough, Hooft Graafland did make the cut in Utrecht – even though PPE only had room for 75 students. “To be honest, I felt I was better suited for the IBA programme, but PPE gave me the opportunity to share my enthusiasm in an interview and show how good my English is.” He does emphasise that he didn’t really have a clear first choice beforehand. “Maybe I even already had a slight preference for PPE because Utrecht seemed like a nicer town.” Having just rounded off the introduction week, he knows he made the right choice. He is particularly happy with the international character of his programme.

In short: the way it stands, things seem to have turned out alright for Amber’s former schoolmates who weren’t able to enrol in Rotterdam’s IBA programme. And perhaps the same can be said for the 1,352 other candidates who had to look elsewhere.