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Friday 19 December  
Leiden University Medical Centre
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Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Mega university to put Netherlands on academic map

Published on : 26 July 2011 - 6:53pm | By RNW News Desk (Photo: Wikipedia)
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75,000 foreign students

A merger between the University of Leiden, Delft Technical University and Rotterdam’s Erasmus University would create an institution with around 55,000 students.

At the moment, around 20 percent of the student population at the three institutions is not Dutch.

In 2010, there were around 75,000 foreign students in the Netherlands. The majority (22,000) were from neighbouring Germany. China was in 2nd place with around 5,000 students and most of the rest came from other European Union countries.

However, students from outside the EU are also finding their way to the Netherlands: around 400 Indonesians start a course at a Dutch university or college every year.

A mega-university could dramatically improve the Netherlands' reputation in academic circles... and rumour has it that Holland is about to get one. Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam are planning to cooperate more closely and are even considering amalgamating their institutions. But it might not be as simple as it sounds.

The three universities are aiming at a higher international profile and attracting a large number of foreign students and professors as well as a higher place on the international rankings or the science university top 10.

According to I-Graduate's Nannette Ripmeester, amalgamating the three universities could help. Ms Ripmeester compiles the International Student Barometer, (ISB), an index of the factors that contribute to the attractiveness of universities across Europe.

Rankings
“I'm sure that they'll jump a few places in the rankings. It's based on the university's scientific output; if you put more scientists and researchers together, then the number of articles and papers published in journals will also increase. That's how an institution rises in the rankings on the citation index. The scientists and researchers are cited in other papers and that increases the visibility and attractiveness of the institution".

In the world university rankings 2010 from the Times higher education supplement, Delft technical University is number 49. Leiden is ranked somewhere in the 80s. Ms Ripmeester believes a merger is a logical move for the three institutions and says many foreigners, in particular people from the USA, are amazed at the number of universities in such a tiny country.

“An American student landing at Schiphol airport and taking a train to Rotterdam would pass through three cities each containing four universities. It's a situation that doesn't occur anywhere else in the world".

Social networks
However, if the three institutions do merge, they would do well not to become fixated on the rankings says Ms Ripmeester.

“According to the ISB, the scientific rankings come eighth on the list of most important things considered by a student looking to study abroad. Although a higher scientific ranking is always advantageous for an institution, there's no need to go into mourning if they are not in the top 10".

She adds that foreign students are far more concerned with the quality of the education and the chance of finding a job after completing a degree. Most foreign students get information about the quality of teaching from their friends and acquaintances via social media and personal networks.

Quality
Jelmer de Ronde is the deputy chair of the National Student Union (LSVb). He warns that the quality of education and the attractiveness of an institution could be undermined by a merger.

“We're afraid that a merger will create a giant university and the management will lose sight of what's happening in the classrooms. If something goes wrong, they won't know and therefore won't do anything about it. The quality of education would suffer and that would affect the institutions' image, and that's important to international students."

Mr de Ronde is referring to the recently revealed problems with the quality of education at InHolland, a mega-college with about 40,000 students. The institution, which was created through dozens of mergers, was awarding diplomas to students who turned in work that was clearly below standard or who had failed to complete the curriculum.

According to NRC Handelsblad, the three universities will announce their merger in September. The institutions have refused to comment.

(jc/ae)

 

Discussion

Remy 4 March 2014 - 1:19pm / India

Great Information! It is really very helpful for me. Thanks for sharing this useful information.
Medical coding training

Jeff F 15 August 2012 - 7:44pm

While in college in Indiana, I spent a semester in Holland and I really enjoyed it. But here in the US, "mega universities" don't work so nicely and I imagine you'll have issues there too. 

Anonymous 28 July 2011 - 3:15am / UK

Following my undergraduate studies in the United Kingdom, I chose Leiden University because it had a great reputation in my field (Public International Law). The size of the University did not feature in my decision to study there. I focused on reviews from former students, reccomendations from academics at my university in the UK and due to the proximity of Leiden to the Institutions in Den Haag. I would be lying if I said that I did not look up the rankings for the University but this was not a major influence on my decision to study there. The UK has a reputation for quality higher education but my own personal experience found that the quality of teaching at Leiden is up there with the likes of Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge. I studied at an Institution with over 35,000 enrolled and I found that this diluted the level of personal attention provided to students.

Anonymous 28 July 2011 - 3:13am / United Kingdom

Following my undergraduate studies in the United Kingdom, I chose Leiden University because it had a great reputation in my field (Public International Law). The size of the University did not feature in my decision to study there. I focused on reviews from former students, reccomendations from academics at my university in the UK and due to the proximity of Leiden to the Institutions in Den Haag. I would be lying if I said that I did not look up the rankings for the University but this was not a major influence on my decision to study there. The UK has a reputation for quality higher education but my own personal experience found that the quality of teaching at Leiden is up there with the likes of Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge.

Anonymous 27 July 2011 - 10:36am / Netherlands

Dutch academia's obsession with world rankings of institutions is utterly laughable. To base consequential decisions such as these on issues of ranking is beyond the pale. We all know that these rankings are arrived at through completely subjective measures. The world's best institutions and best researchers have no concern for rankings -- being obsessed by them is a sure proof of mediocrity.

Anonymous 26 July 2011 - 11:49pm / USA

Of course, a Dutch student la

Anonymous 26 July 2011 - 11:47pm / USA

“An American student landing at Schiphol airport and taking a train to Rotterdam would pass through three cities each containing four universities. It's a situation that doesn't occur anywhere else in the world".

Of course, a Dutch student landing at Logan airport and taking no train would be in Boston, about the same size as Rotterdam, which has numerous universities, albeit some of these nobody has heard of (Harvard, MIT, Boston University ...)

I don't think anyone has considering merging all the universities in Boston to make them "better" ... because the size is irrelevant, except to some bean counter.

Anonymous 26 July 2011 - 9:59pm / Lalaland

If you get the right and excellent teachers, professors and assistants, not the haughty and arrogant ones I had when I studied at Leiden University, you might get on the right way.

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