Universities plan to intensify teaching in order to stimulate students to devote more time and attention to studying. Study success should improve by increasing the number of contact hours in the first year of the Bachelor’s phase.
The number of contact hours has been on the rise in recent years, as is shown by a report submitted by the Education Inspectorate to the Dutch House of Representatives on Friday 9 December 2011. The report states that the percentage of degree programmes where the number of contact hours is fewer than ten per week during the first year has dropped from 36 to 29 percent in the past five years.
Although the situation has improved, universities are still not satisfied. ‘To improve study success, increase success rates and curb dropouts, we need a more ambitious study mind-set’, says Sijbolt Noorda, chair of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU).
The universities have agreed with State Secretary Halbe Zijlstra that in 2015 the number of contact hours for first-year students will be at least 12 per week. ‘This will be a major stimulus for the students’, says Noorda. The contact hours are meant to coax students into studying more independently and 12 hours is seen as the optimum number. More contact hours would lead to students spending less time studying independently.
In addition to increasing the number of contact hours, universities have other ways of stimulating students to study harder, including the BSA System, a variety of testing methods and providing study progress supervision. The universities have also agreed with Zijlstra that they may also use other means to achieve these ends if they can prove that the results are the same.
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