What is happening to the value of my degree?
As exams are nearly on our doorstep, the flow of students in the library has dramatically increased which is not a surprise to anyone who has had to study there in the last few weeks of the previous period. I discovered that during the exam period my friends and I would have to line up in front of the library from 7 in the morning to get the optimal spots. You might think this is a quirk only present in econometricians but alas, no. An hour later the line of students stretched out to the street, most of whom were not econometricians. Eventually, the library got so full, students had to sit on the floor at the end of the corridors. This period I had been avoiding the library for exactly this reason, but the few times I have been there, it appeared to be just as bad. The university, fortunately, will be opening a new library on the site of the Tapijn barracks which will relieve the overcrowded library. It does not, however, address the bigger issue. It appears the university has been accepting an increasing amount of students reported in this year’s annual report. Furthermore, the number of graduates has also been increasing.
Theoretically, this would lead to the devaluation of our degrees as more people obtain them and the tuition fees should reflect that, but this is not the case. Instead, tuition fees have been rising every year as well, for example, in 2013 the tuition was only 1713 euros. Accessible loans and the relatively inexpensive tuition have put an upward pressure on demand. Is the solution then to limit the number of accepted students? Some Dutch universities have already put a quota on acceptance of international students, the group which has been growing the most. The influx of internationals is expected to increase even more, because many Dutch universities are appealing to British students as they are quite similar. This influx of British students is heavily affected by Brexit. Putting a quota might help keep the quality control tighter but would leave talent out that could otherwise contribute to the Dutch economy.
It must be stated that it is crucial for Maastricht University not to give in to pressure to simplify its courses in order for a higher percentage of students to pass. The university does carry responsibility to the existing students to keep the degrees up to a certain quality. After all, students pay for the degree, but it is largely implied getting the degree would lead to better career prospects and those would be negatively influenced if it becomes known that the quality has been dropping.
So, go ahead, fight for spots in the library, and let this struggle serve as a reminder of our existence in an increasingly competitive global scene where we are expected to participate as if the rising tuition and degrees that keep reducing in value are not the obstacles of modern society