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Data-driven decision-making on study progression at KU Leuven

By Kurt De Wit, Piet Verhesschen, Chloe Heerman and Martine Beullens


The access to higher education in Flanders is open: anyone with a secondary education degree can enter a bachelor’s programme of their choice. In addition to this, the government’s policy goal for 2020 is to raise the number of HE graduates. As a result, the total population of HE students is increasing. However, the number of graduates does not follow that trend: more students enter HE, but there are also more failures. This is a huge cost: for society, for the teaching staff (which is not increasing), and for the students themselves. Various measures to tackle this problem have been proposed, e.g. study orientation tests and ability tests. In Flanders, the university of Leuven has taken the lead in regulating study progression in a more strict way. The challenge was to find a study progression measure that would be as specific as possible, in the sense that it should stop students that have no chance of obtaining the degree, without excluding students with a reasonable chance to finish that bachelor’s programme. The measure proposed, and accepted, is to refuse re-enrolment in the same course programme for one year to students who do not obtain 30% credits in that course programme. This measure was taken on the basis of broad discussions, fuelled by extensive quantitative information on study progression of students. This paper gives an account of the decision-making process leading to the measure and of the way in which quantitative data analysis has shaped the decision, among other things by contradicting the ‘gut feeling’ held by many about the way in which students progress through their studies. In this way, the paper highlights the crucial role of reliable management information in institutional decision-making.status: accepte

Topics: Higher Education Policy, Non-completion and progression, Institutional performance measures
Year: 2015
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Provided by: Lirias
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