Anka Mulder

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20.000 TU Delft students on campus this academic year – 250.000 online

Pip is cutting the cakeToday the TU Delft celebrated the fact that we have 20,000 registered students in one academic year for the first time in our history. Student 20,000 is Pip. Pip studied Biological Sciences at Oxford University and received her bachelor degree a few months ago. She joined the entry programme for the Master programme in Biomechanical Engineering in September. When I spoke to Pip yesterday she told me that she chose TU Delft, because of its reputation, its size and because she liked the Biomechanical Engineering programme.

Student numbers have been growing steadily in Delft in the past 10 years. But worldwide demand for higher education is growing even faster. To accommodate this demand, several universities the size of ours would have to be built every week. That will not happen of course so we have to find other ways to do this. Additionally, there is a growing need for continuing education, i.e. professional education for those already in a job. Such continuing education has to be provided in a more flexible way than universities do at present. Online education can help us deal with both aspects and this is an important reason for TU Delft to be active in online education.

110,000 students have enrolled in our new MOOCs. If we include enrolments in MOOCs we ran last year and those in MOOCs that are running now, the total number is 250,000. When we started our online education programme 14 months ago, we never even dreamt of figures this high.

Numbers matter, but what do these figures say? I consider that it shows a clear interest in both our campus and online education, and that success in one supports rather than detracts from the other. I’m proud that we are teaching record numbers of students and learners in engineering programmes, modules and courses. This will help companies in many sectors in Europe and worldwide to innovate, compete and excel. It will also help to address some of the key challenges society faces in, for example, developing renewable energy, creating bio-based materials, and designing sustainable products. Not to mention developing knowledge and skills that will underpin our economies in future, for example, on cyber-security and functional programming.

Where will we be a year from now? One challenge is to improve campus education, for instance, by using our online materials. That will also help take students’ different learning styles into account. Making our online education available to Arabic, Chinese or Russian speakers is another goal. As for professional education, we intend to strengthen our cooperation with companies to see how we can help them address their training needs. But perhaps the biggest challenge will be to keep our education personal for every participant, on campus and online.

TU Delft celebrating the 20,000st student

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