Students & Target Groups The Netherlands

Research “NO DEAL”

Below you can read a summary of a preliminary study that was conducted by Frens Schuring of Terra on the basis of the significant differences between the number of intakes taken and the number of students actually enrolled.

The issue

Before the start of the 2020-2021 school year, 1167 students followed an intake for a study (new students) or further study (internal transfer students) at Terra. The October 1 2020 census shows that 841 students have actually entered into an education agreement with Terra. This means that 28% did not choose Terra: 27% of the new students did not start and 34% of the potential internal transfer students are no longer associated with Terra. That is a significant percentage and it raises the question of why this is the case.

Further research shows that a 100% score is not possible. Some students want a training at a specific location that is not offered there. Other students apply for a study, even though they do not have a diploma of the required prior education. Better information about what is possible and what the admission requirements are, can remedy this. But the vast majority of them are place-able students who, for reasons that we do not yet know enough, decide not to enter the program of Terra.

Student research non-starters

It also raises the question of what Terra could and should do to bring this percentage down. This requires research among non-starters.

Questions you may ask them are:

  • Are you currently registered with a school? If so, at which school?
  • If question 1 is answered with yes: which study do you follow at this school (field)?
  • What are the main reasons why you did not choose to study at Terra?
  • What could Terra improve on the intake?
  • What could Terra have done to get you to study with Terra now?

What could be the possible outcome of the answers to the questions?

  • Content wise: in view of the interest shown by non-starters, where do their preferences lie and can we take this into account in our courses (and optional components)? How do we make our curricula more attractive?
  • Content wise: what do the schools, that the non-starters have chosen, including neighboring AOCs, do better and what can Terra learn from that?
  • Execution: how can Terra adapt the form in which education is offered in such a way that it allows non-starters to start a training at Terra? Think of the whole range of LLL options: new vocational training pathways (BBL), part-time education for adults, course education and tailor-made programs.

Characteristics of the non-starting students

The following is about potential students who ultimately did not start. The internal transferors have not (yet) been studied due to the lack of (reliable) lists.

On average 19 years old

Compared to the regular intake, the qualified prevocational student of 16.5 years old, it is striking that the non-starters are on average 2.5 years older. The average age of the non-starter is 19 years. The population contains more than average:

  • Students who took longer to complete the preliminary phase;
  • Students who have not already completed one or more (VET) further education courses;
  • Older potential students, who have a job but are considering a career switch.

Are these exactly the categories that are critically treated during the intake at locations where the attention for the educational results is high?

Late applicants

About 40% of the non-starting new students show interest at unusual times of the year. The majority of these 40% are interested in the months of May to September. It is known that relatively many of the late applicants terminate their studies early. Last in, first out. Late registration suggests that these are students who have doubts about what they want or who are critical of the organization with which they enter into a contract. In both cases this means – if an education agreement is reached – that a relationship is started that is not strong.

How to proceed?

For the future, it is desirable to carry out the survey annually, earlier and closer to the source. The group of non-starters is questioned every year, but this does not include the above questions. In addition, it is not mandatory to complete the questionnaire presented to non-starters. How can Terra approach this in a smarter way and who will actively get involved in getting as many answers as possible?


Questionaire Research No Deal

Countries Curriculum & Program Finland

MultiPro Module in Finland

MultiPro is an international Bachelor level multidisciplinary study module at Iisalmi campus of Savonia University of Applied Sciences Ltd in Finland. It offers lectures, teamwork, eLearning, traineeship and project studies. The module is especially developed for bachelor exchange students in Social Services, Nursing and Agriculture from Savonia partner universities.  More specific information and a nice video about MultiPro can be found through the following link: MultiPro.


PROGRESS Need Analysis

As one of the first steps in the project partners started to work on a need analysis based on the Whole School Approach to Sustainable Development. A Need Analysis Model, which was developed by our partner INTREEGUE, helped them to start thinking about their needs.   This model can be found here.

The first results of this need analysis was presented and discussed during an online meeting in April. These results will be used as our starting point for collecting Good Practices.

Summary of issues addressed in the need analysis

Students & Characteristics

  • Needs of (new) students:  drives, needs, beliefs, expectations (realistic?) , motives, interests.
  • Needs of specific target groups like migrants, international, older students, ..
  • Focus on how to attract “stronger” students in the future. Decrease of drop outs.
  • Needs and awareness of students to become more sustainable.
  • Students interests and expectations to the school portfolio of degrees.

Communication & Marketing

  • Showing the right picture when recruiting students.
  • Innovative recruiting and marketing methods.
  • Promotion of the VET institutions and companies. VET campaign.
  • Involvement of companies in recruitment.
  • Students as ambassadors.
  • Sharing good stories.
  • Market research to get insight into the drives and needs of students.

Curriculum & Didactics

  • We need proper pedagogical tools and skills for online teaching and web based learning. There should be more interactivity in teaching. We should also find new ways how to teach practical skills online or in a digital way. Also how to facilitate guidance online.
  • Renewal of the curriculum, to develop something unique to attract new students.
  • Future scenario where students support students.
  • Better help for students (mentors, role models etc.).
  • Companies’ active participation in competition open to public (skills).
  • Sustainability is not really integrated in our programmes. Teachers want to incorporate it in social science program.
  • Social inclusion issues.
  • We need more resources and new didactic methodologies.

School Environment & Cooperation

Cooperation with other schools

  • Cooperation with other school levels to increase the inflow of students.
  • What can we learn from the strategies of higher education and universities?
  • Increase the cooperation with primary schools e.g. use VET teachers in primary school, making more projects together, making open courses (for example about biodiversity) and inviting pupils from local primary schools to take the course together with our basic course students (boundary crossing). We should involve the companies in this context as well.
  • More cooperation and coordination, also within our own school.

Cooperation with companies

  • How to follow the changes in the society and work life.
  • Improving cooperation with companies.
  • Far more involvement of the companies in the different offers/courses that we provide to the elementary schools.
  • Limited skills and knowledge exchange among teachers/companies/advisers. Teachers should visit companies more often.
  • Until what point is sustainability a reality of society? The labor market are at the starting point of this future society.

Professional development

  • Courses for the teachers about new technologies in Education.
  • Teacher´s participation in innovative projects.
  • Teachers should be more open minded to a broader view of their profession and teaching methods (crossover project).
  • Some of our personnel is not really into sustainability. They are not driven by it.
  • Professional development of teachers towards a more open minded attitude.
  • Training of new didactic methodologies.

Overall Conclusions Need Analysis

By looking at this summary we can abstract some overall conclusions that can guide us in our search for Good Practices and will help us to define the focus of the Good Practices we want to collect as inspiration for attracting more students and new target groups through the development and innovation of the school towards more sustainable schools.  

  1. It is remarkable that business operations doesn’t seem to be a big issue for the partners although this is an important factor if you take into account that schools need “to practice what they preach”. Otherwise they will not be very credible for new students. For example when a school is incorporating all kinds of sustainable or innovative principals and skills in their programs like circular skills it is also important that the school is incorporating these kind of principles in their own business operations related to for example food and  raw materials.  The same should be taking into account related to renewal of energy supplies, water supplies, mobility, biodiversity etc…
  2. All partners have questions about the drives and interests of their students and potential target groups. Their seems to be a great need for Good practices of research to get more insight into the needs of of students (both for initial programs, lifelong learning programs and international programs).
  3. Partners are also interested in new marketing and recruiting methods to reach out for new target groups on national and international level.
  4. All partners are working on the renewal of their school programs to fit the actual needs of the job market and society and new target groups and are searching for inspirational examples of other schools to help them with this renewal. Good practices are needed related to both the new skills and content as the resources for the programs and innovative didactic an pedagogic methods and tools.
  5. All partners are also aware of the need to strengthen their relationship with companies and educational institutes in their school environment. This is important for the schools to adapt their school programs and methodologies and to attract more students that will not drop out.  
  6. Professional development is also an issue, but is directly connected with renewal the program and cooperation with the school environment. Developing towards a more open minded and outward facing flexible attitude and mindset seems to be a major starting point for this professional development of teachers.
Countries Curriculum & Program Spain

Cultural week “To your health”

In the last course, the CIFEA DE MOLINA in Spain organized a cultural week with the topic “to your health”. Our objective was to attract the students´ interest in food technology, healthy alimentation and Foodtopia, another way to understand the sustainability in the production of dishes. That week all students and teachers had an innovation experience, knowing how we must feed in three important aspects, food composition, food technology and food sustainability.

Every day we are eating, and this activity is important for personal and social development and has consequences for the environment. Foodtopia is the idea of a new concept in alimentation, using vegetables out of commercial categories but with all standards of quality. Are you sure that you need a marvellous pepper or could be enough one with some commercial faults? How many vegetables do we need to take out the rubbish? Is your salad to eat or to see?

With the dissemination of this week, we had the opportunity to increase our impact on the local and regional society. This is an example of good practices understanding how the school is a part of the sustainable society and world. We do not need more we have enough to live.

The full presentation about this initiative: VIEW PRESENTATION

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