2 in 3 Bachelor students need extra time to complete studies

Only 1 in 3 students obtain their Bachelor's degree within the normal span of 3 years. This means that a majority of 2 in 3 needs extra time. The number is up compared to some years ago, De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad report citing statistics collected by the Flemish data bank Higher Education.

First the good news. 70 percent of the students starting a Bachelor education eventually succeed in their goal. However, the bad news is that fewer students are doing this in the original 3-year time span. Some students even need 6 or 7 years to complete their Bachelor, it turns out. A couple of years ago, 40 percent of the students managed to get their degree "in time", i.e. following the 3-year schedule. Nowadays, this number has dropped to some 33 percent.

Didier Pollefeyt of the Leuven university KU Leuven says this is not a good trend, pointing to the cost for society: "This is a waste of public money and totally irresponsible, especially in hard economic times. Moreover, it means an extra cost for the parents, and leads to a later instream in the labour market."

The trend is caused by the greater flexibility. Students now have the opportunity to make their own choices. Even if they haven't completed all the courses successfully in the first year, they can still start the second year. In that case, they just take the courses they failed with them, which makes the burden heavier. Mr Pollefeyt says that this flexibility has gone too far, and should be reconsidered.