A total of 1,467 would-be doctors and dentists will be eligible to start their studies in the autumn, after passing the examination required to be admitted.
The Flemish Community, which has responsibility for all Dutch-language education, organises an annual examination to limit the numbers of students who start a course in medicine or dentistry.
The reasoning is that by filtering out those who do not come up to the high standard required at the earliest stage, students do not find themselves overwhelmed in their first year, leading in many cases to them being forced to change subjects, virtually losing a year of their education.
The French-speaking community, meanwhile, has recently decided to introduce a similar exam. In previous years all applicants with the basic grades were admitted, and many dropped out later.
Another reason for the limit is the number of numbers allocated by the national fund for social security, which allow doctors and dentists to claim treatment fees from the system. The government sets a limit on the number every year, and the exam is tailored to approaching that number.
In the latest session,1,284 candidates passed for medicine from a total of 4,144, and 183 for dentistry from a field of 998, Flemish education minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) announced.
The candidates were predominantly women: 70.51% for medicine and 72.04 for dentistry.
Dutch nationals accounted for 331 and 133 candidates respectively.
The exam is only the first step to starting a medical or dental education, however. Those who passed are as it were the poll for new students. They will now, in their respective disciplines, be ordered according to their results, with the highest-ranked being most likely to be admitted to the 1,276 and 180 places available.
“I understand the disappointment of all candidates who will soon be unable to start the training. Nevertheless, these entrance exams are necessary: they ensure that neither too many nor too few students start these programmes,” said Weyts.