Leuven bars poorly performing students from second year

Leuven University is obliging first year students who fail to get 30% on their three main courses and a fourth course to choose a new direction for their studies. It is the first time that the university is taking such drastic action.

Vice rector Didier Pollefeyt: "We don't believe it's acceptable to allow students to waste their time in this way and suffer such a failure. Students who over three attempts fail to pass in three subjects will not be allowed to start the following year."

In all 2,400 first year students failed to obtain 30% of their study points. The Vice rector believes this figure is far too high: "In reality the measure means that 600 students who have no prospect of success are being given a second chance. The other 1,800 drew their own conclusions and didn't need any university ban to stop the course."

Professor Filip Staes, who is one of the programme directors at Leuven University, concedes that the 30% rule may sound a bit drastic in the short run, but insists the university gave the matter serious thought: "The 30% rule forms a very important threshold. We noticed that in the long run many students never obtained a diploma and after two or three years left the course. Out of tens of thousands of students in this predicament only one percent landed a diploma eventually."

"These are harsh figures but after a year students are aware that it will be impossible for them to get a diploma. If we allow these students to continue as was the case until now we see these people leaving the course after two years. This also has financial ramifications for them."

"For some students who persist it means they never obtain a diploma and cannot continue their studies elsewhere. You have to ask 'Is this the right choice?'"