Foundation year Twente Pathway College insufficiently matches UT education

| Jelle Posthuma

International students who followed a foundation year at Twente Pathway College underperformed in the first year of their UT bachelor's studies. A 'disappointing percentage' received a positive binding study advice. This is stated in an evaluation of the foundation year.

Twente Pathway College

Several students from outside the EEA must follow a so-called foundation year. In this way, they are prepared for academic education in the Netherlands. At the UT, Navitas, with its local branch Twente Pathway College, offers the foundation year. By recruiting more students from outside the EU, the UT hopes to contribute to an 'international classroom' and more diversity. The foundation year should also guarantee the 'sustainability' of the student population at the UT.

The 'mid-term' evaluation report on Twente Pathway College (TPC) was requested by the University Council and conducted by an external consultant. The evaluation states that the foundation year resulted in more students than expected for the UT. At the same time, only 40.9 per cent of students who started the foundation year received a positive binding study advice in the first year of their UT bachelor's programme. Many TPC students also decided to switch to another study programme. The high student numbers combined with the underperformance are 'draining' UT resources, according to programme directors, lecturers and study advisers mentioned in the report. 

Fred de Vries, head of Internationalisation Strategy in the Strategy & Policy department, says he is pleased with the current influx of TPC students. 'This means that the foundation year is making a real contribution to the UT's mission to be an international university. But the evaluation also shows that the connection and integration between TPC and UT education needs to be improved. You would expect TPC students to perform at least as well, or even better, than their fellow students who did not take the foundation year.'

Cultural differences 

The report shows that during the foundation year, students are insufficiently prepared for the Twente Education Model (TOM) and the Dutch (educational) culture, in which working independently and problem-solving are of paramount importance. During the selection of students, too little attention is paid to these differences as well. 'In short, the learning environment of the foundation year does not match the learning environment of the UT well enough,' says UT policy advisor Anne Olde Loohuis. 'Students also don't always choose the study that suits them, possibly because of expectations from their families at home. Finally, Covid has played a role. For this group of students, it was even more difficult to integrate because of all the restrictions.'

Together with Navitas, the university wants to better align the foundation year with education at the UT. This will require, among other things, broadening the selection process and better alignment of the TPC curriculum with TOM. 'Together with Navitas and the UT study programmes, we want to ensure better integration, transition and inclusion of students.' Olde Loohuis and De Vries are not yet able to say much about the further consequences of the evaluation. First, there will be a discussion about the report tomorrow, Wednesday 11 May, in the University Council.

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