Flemish government wants admission tests for all higher education studies

Flemish government wants admission tests for all higher education studies
Students who do not pass the test, will still be able to start the studies. Credit: Belga

The Flemish government wants a compulsory admission test for all study programmes in higher education, not just a selected few, according to Ben Weyts, the Flemish Minister for Education.

Many study programmes already require entry and calibration tests for students before they can start their higher education.

"I would like to introduce admission tests for the entire higher education system, for all programmes," said Weyts in the Education Committee of the Flemish Parliament. "As far as I am concerned, these admission tests should also have binding consequences," he added.

Those consequences are not the 'all or nothing' kind, he said, reports De Standaard. A general admission test, like for medical studies, refusing to let a student who failed the test start the programme, is not what he had in mind. Students who do not pass the test, will still be able to start the studies.

However, Weyts does want compulsory remediation and further training. "If there are shortcomings before a student starts their education, they must be remedied," said Weyts. "At least in the first year. Otherwise, of course, those tests are for nothing," he added.

This way, the minister wants to get rid of the non-committal character of the tests. "They need to have consequences so that they make more sense, both for the student and for the university or university college. We are investing a lot of taxpayers' money in these tests. They are useful, but we want to make them even more useful," he said, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

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"At the moment, the test for students is somewhat pro forma, others take it very seriously. I understand that the government wants to look beyond that," said Joris Hindryckx, general director of Vives University College and chairman of the Flemish Council of Universities of Applied Sciences. "If this increases the study efficiency, we are prepared to cooperate," he added.

"Universities are already using the calibration tests to adapt their study guidance systems, and to offer students specific tutoring literature," said Luc Sels, the rector of KU Leuven and chairman of the Flemish Interuniversity Council, who is willing to discuss remediation, provided that the tests are sufficiently scientifically valid.

For now, these admission tests are only required for several programmes. To start the training to become a doctor or dentist, students have to take a compulsory and binding entrance examination, of which only the ones with the best results can start the study. For veterinary medicine, civil and industrial engineers and bio-engineers, among others, there is a compulsory but non-binding calibration test.

For teacher training courses, there is a compulsory but non-binding entry test, and for (audio)visual arts, music and performing arts, there is a compulsory and binding admission test.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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