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Foto: Daniël Rommens
international

Bachelor of social geography and planning gets English-language track

Thirza Lont,
2 november 2022 - 10:10

Beginning in September 2023, non-Dutch-speaking students will also be able to study social geography and planning. This is because the bachelor’s degree will get an English-language track, in addition to the already existing bilingual track. Jochem de Vries and Hebe Verrest of the program explain.

Why are you going to offer an English track?

Verrest: "We think that international students contribute to the quality of our program, and their presence also benefits Dutch students. They often do an English-language master's after their bachelor's and then end up in an international work environment. An English track would introduce them to such an environment while they are getting their bachelor's degree."

De Vries: "There are many advantages to adding an English-language track to the program. For example, a large proportion of our academic staff is already English-speaking. If the training in terms of employees is becoming increasingly international due to globalization, that should also be reflected in the training. Besides, we are one of the last social sciences at the UvA that does not yet offer a bachelor's degree in English."

"We think the solution to this explosive growth must come from The Hague"

You also speak of a bilingual track. What is that?

Verrest: "That is a track in which both Dutch and English are the languages of instruction. This means that non-Dutch-speaking students cannot take part in it because some parts are only taught in Dutch."

 

The problems surrounding the internationalization of the student population are increasing due to the large growth in the number of international students. So why are you starting an English-language track anyway?

Verrest: "That is a problem that we as a program cannot solve, as it is a systemic problem that all universities are facing. We think the solution to this explosive growth must come from The Hague. Also, we will continue to pay particular attention to the Dutch context in our program."

Increase in international students

Last year, College President Geert ten Dam sounded the alarm about the increase in the number of international students at the UvA. A year later, little has changed. The UvA therefore wants an experiment with a cap on the English-language tracks of psychology and political science but limiting only one track of a program is not allowed. The question is therefore whether that experiment can go ahead.  

What if the track proves very popular and starts to grow very fast without Hague measures to limit that growth? 

Verrest: "At the moment, it's not possible for programs to limit the influx of international students, but we are hopeful that that will change soon. There is a real need at many universities for a cap on English-language tracks. And if the number of applications grows quickly, we would have to put a cap on admissions for all students, including those in the bilingual track. But that would be a last resort."

 

Is your intention to just maintain the number of students or to increase it by attracting students from abroad?

De Vries: "Our program has had stable numbers of students for years, but is somewhat smaller compared to other bilingual programs. Of course, it is necessary to keep our student numbers up, so that is another reason for the English track. We cannot keep doing the same thing indefinitely and expect to keep the same numbers of students. We want to at least remain stable and maybe grow a little."

Verrest: "But it is certainly not our intention to grow the way political science has."