UU would like to welcome more physics and chemistry students. Photo DUB

UU is considering a second broad English-language science bachelor programme

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The Faculty of Science is investigating the possibility of a new English-language broad bachelor’s programme. Among other things, this should ensure that the number of Utrecht students in the field of physics and inorganic chemistry increases. In three years, there may be two broad English-language science bachelor programmes in addition to the Dutch-language disciplinary programmes.

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According to the faculty, the new programme is necessary because UU wants to attract a quarter more students in physics and chemistry in the coming four years. In the Science and Technology sector plan that the universities drew up last year, the Utrecht Faculty of Science makes this promise. This plan served as the basis for an additional annual boost of 60 million euros from the government.

The idea of an English-language Bachelor's programme in natural sciences has been around for some time. An exploratory committee recently came with a proposal that focused primarily on collaboration between physics, computer science and mathematics. The Faculty Board supports the ideas, but also wants the new programme to increase the intake in the Chemistry Master Nanomaterials in view of the sector agreements.

The number of new students from the Utrecht faculty increased from 1267 to 1323 this year, but this growth is mainly seen in the computer science and information science programmes. At the moment, the Utrecht science programmes Physics and Chemistry show no structural increase. The enrolment figures fluctuate somewhat. This year, there were 128 new chemistry students and 126 new physics students. Those numbers should be 170 and 153 respectively in the future.

The faculty is aiming for 2023 as the starting date for the new programme. According to vice-dean Gerard Barkema, there will be no consequences for current disciplinary Dutch-language programmes. "Of course, interested students will start doubting between programmes, but we are mainly aiming at other target groups: students who would like to follow a broad programme, students who would like to follow an English-language programme after their bilingual VWO, and international students."

Earlier, the Faculty of Science decided to start a broad English-language bachelor programme in the Life Sciences. This Molecular and Biophysical Life Sciences programme has to become the successor to the Dutch-language track that Biology and Chemistry students are still following at this moment. The request is ready to be approved by the minister. The hope is that the first students can start in September 2021.

Broad multidisciplinary Bachelor programmes fit in with the UU strategy, as was demonstrated once more earlier this year by the first initiatives for the new strategic plan. However, the university's position regarding English-language is that bachelor programmes should in principle be Dutch-speaking, unless the discipline itself or the labour market explicitly require English-language. Barkema sees few problems in that regard: “Moreover, our Dutch-language programmes continue to exist. We merely offer an extra option.”

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