Last year, staff of the psychology programme braced themselves for the influx of up to 900 students. Now more that half of the academic year is over, it seems that the large group of students did not cause too many problems. 'I am glad we did not mess things up'.
Preliminary applications for the English-taught Psychology bachelor were going through the roof last year. Director of Education Ruud Meulenbroek and the rest of the staff were prepared for 900 students, and eventually around 700 actually started. ‘It would not have been a fine scenario if 900 students had actually showed up. Abolishing the intake restriction and starting an English-taught programme at the same time was not too smart of us.’
For next year, the bachelor programme psychology will re-introduce an intake restriction, of 550 people. Meulenbroek: ‘we know that approximately 10 percent of the students we accept will not start. So this way, we get around 500 students. A number we can manage and that will not endanger the quality of education.’
The classes got so crowded that one of the first courses of the year had to be taught in a room of the Cinemec cinema in Lent. The university expected that the students would not fit in a university classroom. Psychology students Henriette Hoehne (21) and Carlotta (20) never minded going to the Cinemec lectures. ‘It was quite fascinating’, says Henriette.
‘I liked this solution for the big group of students. Some people did say it was a different atmosphere and that the dark made them sleepy.’ Carlotta agrees: ‘It was fine. Everybody liked the course as well, that helped. The only weird thing was that there were no tables.’ Another thing that made it easier, was that the big lectures were an exception. ‘The work groups are smaller’, says Henriette, ‘they contain around 20 people. That is perfect for me. But even in the big group, I wasn’t afraid to ask questions.’
Last year, some students feared that the big influx would cause a lot of students to quit. Carlotta says she did see the group of first-year students become smaller over the course of the year. ‘But I am not sure if that means that people drop out. The lectures are recorded. The stress and lack of time can make people skip the actual class and just watch it at home.’ Meulenbroek sees this as an exciting challenge for the future. ‘How do we stimulate students to want to come to the class? You cannot ignore progress in technology, so we do want to offer the recorded lectures.’
Because of the large student numbers, some suggested that lectures would have to be showed on a live video connection in another room. ‘I always refused to do that’, says Meulenbroek. ‘We want to connect to our students and make them feel involved at the university. A smaller group of first-years will help us achieve that.’
Today is the third day of Vox on Tour: the mobile editorial office was at the Faculty of Philosophy, theology and religious studies yesterday and is at the Social Sciences Faculty today, in the Spinoza building.