The cabinet agreed last week to legislation being proposed by Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven. The step had already been announced. The proposed legislation will come too late for this academic year, but those looking to join certain study programmes from 2021-2022 will probably be able to do so through the drawing of lots.
From the year 2000, programmes such as medicine and physiotherapy were able to select half their student intake on the basis of motivation and talent, with the remainder being admitted on the drawing of lots. It was only in 2017 that the drawing of lots in higher education was outlawed completely.
It was argued at the time that the drawing of lots was unfair. After all, why should an unmotivated student who had barely scraped through his exams have the same chance of being admitted as a highly-motivated classmate who had passed his exams with flying colours? Selection would also benefit the pass rates of the study programmes themselves.
‘Effective selection is not easy’
In practice, however, selection resulted unintentionally in unequal opportunities, in the case of men and students from non-Western backgrounds, for example. The truth is that careful and effective selection is not easy. The matter is further complicated by the presence of international students.
There has therefore been a marked shift in political opinion. Currently, there is a majority in favour of the return of the drawing of lots as one of the ways of admitting students to programmes with a fixed quota.
The proposed legislation is now going before the Council of State, who will issue its recommendations in due course. It will then be dealt with by the House of Representatives, possibly with a few amendments. It is not clear whether this will happen before the election in March 2021.
HOP, Bas Belleman