In 2015, 62 students started the bachelor's programme Technical Computer Science. This academic year, the number was close to three hundred. And for next academic year, the programme expects 439 new students, according to the best prediction. 'We have been able to absorb the growth and scale up for years,' Rensink explains. 'Next academic year we can handle this again, but we need an instrument to put a stop to the unbridled growth in student numbers.'
The intention is that as of the academic year 2022-2023 the programme will only admit a maximum of four hundred students. The plan is still to be approved by the University Council. 'It's not as if we're going to stick with this for the rest of the UT's existence,' says Rensink. 'For now, this is the best tool to control growth.'
In 2019, when Rensink was still programme director at Technical Computer Science, he did not want a numerus fixus. That Technical Computer Science has now resorted to this remedy is a decision made with a 'bleeding heart', says Rensink. 'It is absolutely an emergency measure. But we have made a choice for the quality of our education and the protection of our teaching staff. We have simply reached the limit of what we can handle.'
numerus fixus controversial
The numerus fixus – or student stop – is a controversial instrument. Opponents are concerned about inequality of study opportunities and unfair selection. In the case of technical studies, there is an additional argument, because of the need on the labour market and the appeal to young people to opt for a technical study.
With Technical Medicine, the UT already had a study programme with a numerus fixus (150 students). From 2022-2023, the programmes Psychology (350 students) and Technical Computer Science (400) will be added.
Rensink is aware of the labour market's demand for IT graduates. 'And we would like to meet that demand. But we want to be able to provide them with good graduates.'
With a numerus fixus of four hundred students, the University of Twente has chosen the middle ground compared to the programmes offered by other universities of technology. 'In Delft and Eindhoven, the computer science programmes have had a numerus fixus for years. We used to be the smallest programme. With a maximum of 400 students, we have a higher numerus fixus than Eindhoven. With this number, we hope to keep things manageable.'