End of an Era: College stops with Spring enrolment

From the academic year 2022-2023, all new degree students will begin their studies at University College Utrecht in the Fall semester. The college will still be welcoming new exchange students in Spring 2023, but the next start date prospective degree students can apply for is Fall 2023. Although there will be no more new ‘halfies’ coming to UCU, this does not mean that the college will admit less of its talented applicants.

An investigation into the necessity of Spring enrolment began in September 2021, aiming to find out whether this practice still supports the needs of the college and the community. After reviewing administrative processes and enrolment data, as well as interviewing halfies and other student representatives, tutors and College Hall staff, the conclusion was clear.

The drawbacks of continuing with Spring enrolment are overall greater than the gains. In the first decade of the college admitting this class of students has allowed UCU to have a larger new cohort each year. Looking at the steadily rising number (and quality) of applications for Fall in the last 10 years, this second chance to join the year’s cohort is much less necessary. Furthermore, both halfies and college staff have expressed concerns about Spring enrolment.

Students described the difficulties of integrating into an established cohort and the community as a halfie. Arriving halfway through the year, they often felt behind on knowledge and experiences compared to the much larger group of students who enrolled in the previous Fall.

The primary concerns of College Hall and academic staff were related to work pressure. Having two enrolment moments means coordinating and managing the complete admission and enrolment process twice each year: from reviewing application files and conducting admission interviews to allocating housing and tutors.

The investigation resulted in a proposal to stop Spring enrolment and gradually admit more degree students in the Fall until the total number of new students in the cohort is restored. This gradual approach is necessary because UCU will not immediately have the additional places available (in terms of housing, courses, etc.), but it’s expected to get there in the next 3-4 years. The proposed changes do not affect the Commencement Ceremonies—there will still be two each year—but Spring Introduction Week will be shortened and organized specifically for incoming exchange students.

The proposal to stop Spring enrolment was accepted by the UCU Management Team and the University College Council in March 2022. Formal approval of the Executive Board of Utrecht University is expected in the early summer.