The Catholic university of Louvain (UCL) presented a series of tools meant to guide and support students working towards a BAC 1, on Monday, a few days ahead of the open-day events on its various campuses. “All these measures stem from the fact that we have noticed that secondary students go through a difficult transition phase when they reach the first year at university,” explained Philippe Parmentier, UCL’s director of education administration and training. “We aim to support students without expecting less of them,” he insisted during a debate on whether academic orientation and support are useful to avoid BAC 1 failures. Out of 4,000 new UCL students in BAC 1, almost 1,500 went through the orientation programme, according to figures collated by the university, where experts are trying to understand the first year failure rate (approximately 60% every year, editor’s note). According to them, orientation is one factor which helps, but is not enough on its own.
To head in the right direction, students must be “pro-active”. “If a student is not involved in his search, it will not work,” according to UCL. “This quest must start in their last year of secondary school,” says Philippe Fonck, director of the Information and Orientation Centre. “We leave the actual choice of subjects too late for secondary school students. Research must start earlier.”
UCL is recommending beginning the process at secondary level. It is collaborating with 200 teachers and psycho-medico-social counsellors to host orientation events. It also offers training for teachers wishing to help with orientation.
The Louvain University highlights the need for support throughout the first year as well. “In total, over 87 different types of support services are offered to BAC 1 students,” points out Mr. Parmentier. These include embargo workshops, post-exams support sessions, renegotiating workshops, or prerequisite tests at the start of the year. Open-day events will take place at UCL campuses in Brussels, Louvain-la-Neuve, and Mons, on Friday April 24th and Saturday April 25th.