Positive results for ‘nominal is normal’
Introduction for more courses on Erasmus University
Positive results are being gained with the new system at Erasmus University Rotterdam which is designed to ensure that students complete their studies within the allocated deadline. It looks as if the ‘nominal is normal’ campaign in the Faculty of Social Sciences is going to produce more students passing their first year in one go. These are the findings from an interim survey in the faculty. The Executive Boards now wants to introduce the system for more courses.
For some years now Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) has been working on ways of getting students to complete their studies within the official or nominal time set for the programme, for one thing to avoid them having to pay fines for overstepping the deadline. The Faculty of Social Sciences (FSW) has been offering the full ‘nominal is normal’ package which is a combination of proactive teaching with tutor guidance, fewer resit opportunities and more compensatory options to ensure that students stay on track. The idea is that students should pass their first year in one go so that they can then embark on their second without any backlog.
The Risbo research institute and the faculty looked at the state of play after three blocks of the programme when it is possible to give a fair indication of the success rate at the end of the academic year. The researchers compared the number of students who had earlier completed their first year after two years, with the number of students that now look as if they will do so within a year in accordance with the new norm. Previously students had to obtain at least 40 of the total of 60 credits and then they had two years in which to finish the first year in full. The ‘nominal is normal’ system means that first year students now have to complete their social science first year courses in that first year.
The interim survey shows positive results. In Sociology it would seem that there is a big chance of more students passing their first year, in their first year, than passing it after two years. There is also a real chance that this will happen for Public Administration and Psychology while a high percentage of the students doing the new Pedagogical Sciences programme look as if they will obtain the full complement of credits this year too.
The number of new first year students declined in the Social Sciences Faculty but this is in line with a national falling trend in comparable programmes. New students say that the new system did not affect their choice of study. It is not clear whether the start of the new programme (pedagogical sciences) has affected the intake to other social science programmes.
Given these findings the University’s Executive Board now plans to introduce the new system on a wider scale. It will be decided this month in consultation with the deans and the University Council which programmes will switch to the ‘nominal is normal’ system in the coming academic year (2012-2013).
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