Column: Twente Open Days - Swipe Right or Left?

| Bas Leijser

In this biweekly column, Bas Leijser gives his unfiltered opinion on university life, with a bit of sarcasm and Dutch directness mixed in. In his free time, Bas likes to graduate for his master in Civil Engineering & Management.


At the end of this week, it is that time of the year again. No, it’s not Sinterklaas giving away candy, it’s the University of Twente giving away studies during the Open Days. There is enough for everyone and you can pick whichever study you like.

The Open Days usually kick off at the Sports Centre. While sipping your coffee, you are treated to students climbing up and rappelling down the concrete wall, like Black Petes in a chimney.

As the caffeine sharpens your senses and clouds your mind, you are presented with a Hollywood version of the campus. What’s not to like? Every study is amazing, your career prospects are illustrious, and the campus itself is a beacon of hope in the cesspit that we call Twente.

All you have to do, is decide which study to pick. For which I have a theory.

Since my chances of publishing my own scientific theory are found in the imaginative realm, let me present one here.

According to Leijser Social Decision Theory, there are three methods people use to select a study:

  1. Pick the study that you like the most, and trust that it will all work out in the end. Namaste.
  2. Look at the top 10 studies with the best career opportunities, and pick the one you would hate the least.
  3. Let your mom decide for you.

I tell people I am a category B kind of person, but secretly I am a C.

In all seriousness though, the Twente Open Days place far too much emphasis on category A, rather than B. They paint a future that is too bright and for which the university does not sufficiently prepare you.

In essence, the Open Days have become the equivalent of Tinder, where you swipe left or right based on superficialities. ‘They had a room dedicated to VR’ or ‘that wind tunnel blew me away’ should not be deciding factors. Especially when those places are only a part of the Open Days but not of your actual curriculum.

That is what we call a cheap marketing ploy. Since we’re already using Tinder as a metaphor anyway: the Open Days are akin to all those attractive pictures you see in someone’s profile, while your actual study is the disappointing reality when you meet said person face-to-face.

As an educational institution, rather than a business, I’d say that the university has the responsibility to be upfront about what prospective students can expect. And if that includes cheap coffee, a not-so-interesting lecture, and an honest presentation about the devilish Twentse Onderwijs Model, then so be it. But at least you will know that each student that does finally sign up, truly means it, and is given you nothing less than a Super Like