Some 2,000 first-year bachelor students entered last September, 8 percent less than last academic year's 2,200. While the intake of Dutch students remained the same, the number of international students declined. According to Head of Marketing Irene van der Ploeg, this has not so much to do with the political internationalisation debate. 'It could play a part, but the effect will have been small. A person's study choice path usually spans one and a half to two years, so then we should notice those effects in September 2024.'
The number of Dutch students remained almost the same, with half of them coming from the eastern part of the Netherlands. Van der Ploeg sees that UT's efforts in the west of the Netherlands - including through its collaboration with the VU - are bearing fruit. 'To our satisfaction, the proportion of students from the west of the Netherlands increased by five percentage points. The UT is fully committed to increasing its name awareness among students in that part of the country.'
Twente Pathway College
However, the number of European students declined slightly, by 4 percent. Mainly due to fewer German students (minus 16 percent). But the biggest decline is in students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). That number fell by 40 percent.
According to Van der Ploeg, this can be explained by a reduced throughput from the foundation year offered by Twente Pathway College/Navitas. This is also apparent from Twente Pathway College's own figures; in recent years, some 200 students consistently progressed to UT programmes, but last September the number was 54.
According to Van der Ploeg, UT does not recruit bachelor students outside the EEA. 'That has been a choice, that we invest that international inflow for the bachelor at Twente Pathway College. For master's students, we use a different strategy. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science's request to be cautious in recruiting international students focuses mainly on the bachelor intake and less on master's students.'
Throughput to masters
The number of master's students also declined, by 5 percent. UT welcomed 9 percent fewer Dutch master's students in September than last year. The number of international master's students actually increased (within the EEA), or remained the same. According to Van der Ploeg, the 'slight decrease' can be explained by less throughput. 'From own bachelor's programmes to own master's programmes. And from hbo, the throughput also decreased slightly.'
For the second year in a row, the UT's influx declined, whereas in previous years it grew. In part, this is still searching for explanations, says Van der Ploeg. 'We received fewer students than intended and than the pre-registrations showed. Towards the summer, we seemed to be heading for an increase of about 11 percent of Dutch students compared to last year. We are now investigating why the percentage of pre-registration to conversion - i.e. application - went from about 50 per cent to 43 per cent. That cannot be explained at the moment.'
According to Van der Ploeg, the UT's aim is to break the downward trend towards September 2024. 'The new marketing campaign should help with this. It is now under way and should help us gain awareness among 65 percent of Dutch high-school and university students. We are also putting more effort into school visits, discussions with school deans and working on our online findability.'
However, she says boosting the intake is no easy task in view of some developments. 'We do not yet know which way the internationalisation discussion will go. And in the Netherlands, we see demographic developments that do not work in our favour; the number of vwo students with an N-profile is declining, the choice for technical studies is also declining - even among students with an N-profile. But we have a lot to offer students, with our campus, small-scale education, personal attention and affordable housing. We need to tell that message widely.'