Let universities send failing students away: Dutch professor

Universities in the Netherlands should be allowed to send failing students away faster, according to retiring professor Bert van der Zwaan of Utrecht University. Dutch universities have "too many students who actually belong in higher vocational education", he said to newspaper Trouw.

Van der Zwaan is retiring as the highest scientific director at Utrecht University after seven years of holding the function. In his farewell speech on Monday, he called for universities to be allowed to select their students more stringently. Too many students are failing at present, he said. "You can also see this in the dropout rate: 25 percent of students stop studying", he said to the newspaper.

To ensure that students end up in the right study direction for them, a referral tool such as a selection process is needed. "Selection is such a method. I am in favor of it. There is currently no legal means to exert pressure on students who do not really belong in university. Politicians always choose the safe side: we want the most students, the best education, and it should not cost too much. That is of course impossible."

Henk Kummeling is replacing Van der Zwaan as the highest scientific rector at Utrecht University.