“Send failing students away by Christmas”

If university students manage to fail the majority of their chosen subjects in the first semester, they should be advised to attend a vocational or university college instead. Luc De Schepper, rector of Hasselt University, told dailies ‘Het Belang Van Limburg’, ‘Gazet van Antwerpen’ and ‘Het Nieuwsblad’, that this measure would save both the students and the university a lot of money.

At the start of the academic year, Leuven University rector Rik Torfs, proposed a binding entry exam for secondary school students with a “less academic background”. This way, they are able to find out whether they would fit in and pass their chosen degrees.

According to Mr Torfs, the number of students passing their course would rise and this will result in more money being saved. However, Mr De Schepper does not support this idea.

“We really don’t believe that you can establish whether a student is suited for a particular degree by letting them take an entry exam. Those who started a degree and fail all their subjects at Christmas or in February, should just be advised to pick another, less taxing course”, stated Mr De Schepper.

Mr De Schepper calculated that 3500 euro per student could be saved by advising failing undergraduates to rethink their futures. According to the rector, this is the only feasible way for Hasselt University to not fall victim to the proposed higher education budget cuts. “We can’t save any more money, it’s just impossible”, he stated in ‘Het Belang Van Limburg’

“No to higher tuition fees”

Rector De Schepper absolutely doesn’t agree with the higher education budget cuts proposed by the new Flemish government, as Flanders primarily benefits from its so-called “knowledge economy”. If, as a result of the budget cuts, Flemish universities and colleges have to raise their tuition fees, the situation could become very problematic.

“The Flemish government shouldn’t make us do all the hard work. In Limburg, you can’t just simply raise the tuition fees. In comparison to the rest of Flanders, we’ve got a higher percentage of scholarship students who we can’t demand more money from. On top of that, there’s a big group that can only barely afford their education as it is and they would also end up without the opportunity to study.”

The Hasselt University rector also fears that less students will enter the university if they are asked to pay higher tuition fees.

Whether Flanders actually needs five universities – a question asked by Rik Torfs – is a “tiring” query, according to Mr De Schepper. “When looking at international data, the norm should be 1 university for every 1 million inhabitants. If I can count correctly, this means that Flanders can actually add another university.”