Study Success

Fileholder: Fieke Noordam
Contact: studiesucces@oras.nl
Last Update: July 2017, by Josephine Dumas

General summary

Study Success is a portfolio about the measures the TU Delft takes to improve the study success: study success is for the TU Delft in particular the study pace of students. The average study pace is low when you compare Delft to other universities. That’s why the TU Delft keeps trying to improve the study pace of their students. But, not all the measures are just beneficial for students. For example: the curricula contain more obligations and midterm assignments or tests. These are implemented to force students to keep up with their study.

We’re working on this portfolio since 2011 but it has grown during Project Study Succes in 2013. During this Project a lot of obligations had made their entrance. The project started because the university had made agreements with the government: de TU Delft had to better the average study pace of their students and in return they could receive a part of the financial support from the government. To achieve that, the TU Delft decided to higher the BSA from 30 ECTS to 45 ECTS and to change all the curricula for Project Study Success. A lot of studies also implemented some measures, like obligations, to make students study faster.

In this portfolio, we as ORAS think it is important to keep talking to the Executive Board about the negative side of obligations. With a lot of obligations, students lose the possibility to learn how to take their own responsibilities. Furthermore, this is a topic faculties are dealing with, so as ORAS we keep in touch with the FSC’s and the study associations to discuss this topic.


The Hague stimulates the TU Delft to higher their average study pace.

When Halbe Zijlstra was state secretary, the government made arrangements with all universities. When the universities wouldn’t be able to live up to the arrangements, there would be financial consequences for the university. Study Success is one of the topics the government and the university made arrangements for. In the beginning, in 2010, the TU Delft had a bachelor pass rate after four years of 27% (so 27% of the students passed their bachelor within four years). The deal was that in 2015, this would have grown to 55%.

To live up to this, the university started Project Study Success. A big part of the project was changing the curricula. To make a plan how to do this the university started a workgroup, workgroup Didactics. They came with a report in 2011: ‘Koersen op Studiesucces’. In this report they described some recommendations regarding the new curricula. Some of the recommendations were about education in blocks, a better balance between the courses and a better spread of the study load. In academic year 2012-2013 the most curricula have changed. Only applied physics (year early) and electrical engineering (year late). After the curricula had changed, we saw a rising trend in the number of obligations for students. A lot of midtermtests, homeworkclasses and attendance duty made us think about a second high school. Because of this we wrote as SC a letter to the Executive Board and the Board promised to adjust some things.

The TU lived up to the arrangements made with the government. The average study pace has grown a lot.

Current status

In 2017 the project has been evaluated. An important result from the evaluation was that the change of the curricula not really had an influence on the growth of the average study pace. Only the new height of the BSA had an influence. The evaluation committee has also given the TU fifteen recommendations in the evaluation report. We as SC wrote a letter discussing the results and the recommendations. Most important thing we wrote in the letter is that we want less focus on the study pace in the future but more on the quality of education. The university should look at other ways to stimulate students to study, not by obligating measures.

Furthermore, in the government are people talking about new arrangements with universities. If and how they will be implemented depends on the new cabinet.

Ideal situation

ORAS has the opinion that it’s one of the tasks of a  university to make sure students learn how to take their own responsibilities. A lot of obligations will have as consequence that the feeling of responsibility will be less. That’s why we are sceptic about obligations. ORAS thinks a few obligations in the first year is fine, but they should be reduced in the years following. A student should eventually study for the content of his/her course and not just to pass every course because he/she has to. Furthermore, a student need to get the room to make their own faults and to learn from it and not immediately be punished for it. That’s why our ideal situation is that the university would reduce the number of obligations in the future.

Do you want to know more about our vision regarding this topic? Read our position paper (only available in Dutch).

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