In Flanders, like elsewhere, a bachelor’s degree course usually should take three years to complete. However, only a third of the students at our universities and colleges of higher education complete their bachelor’s degree course in this time. The rest take longer because they take subjects that they failed with them to resit in a later year. Around a quarter of students that had enrolled for a bachelor’s degree course end up leaving college or university without a degree.
In an effort to tackle the issue of students remaining in higher education for too long (due them having to resit courses they had failed) or leaving higher education empty-handed the Flemish Government has decided that by the end of their second year all students must have successfully passed all their first-year subjects. This will be a condition to them being allowed to progress to the third year of their college or university bachelor’s degree course.
The measure means action will be taken earlier in a student’s academic career than what is suggested in the Flemish coalition agreement. The Flemish coalition agreement that states that a measure would be brought in obliging students to have successfully completed their bachelor’s degree before they would be allowed to commence their master’s degree.
The Vice-Rector of Brussels Dutch-Medium Free University (VUB) Jan Danckaert told VRT News that it is good news that the Flemish Government has decided not to do this. “Figures show that this would have to opposite effect to what is intended. Students that are already on a master’s degree course sometimes get behind in their studies due to them having to combine subjects from a bachelor’s and a master’s degree”.
He added that a student’s performance at the start of their degree is usually a good indicator of their performance later on.
Extra assistance will be given to students that perform poorly early in the first year of their studies to help increase their chance of successfully completing their first year.
Mr Weyts’ proposals will be discussed and voted on in the Flemish Parliament. If MPs give them their backing the measures will come into effect from the start of the 2023-2024 academic year.