Intensives at AUC: What is Going Wrong?

By Amber Roos

– Amsterdam University College (AUC) prides itself on its academic excellence. However, many students experience problems in their programme and the question of how to solve them remains. Unfortunately, AUC has not been very proactive in resolving such issues.

At AUC, each semester is separated into a 16-week and 4-week period. In the 4-week period, called the intensive, students take the same course for four weeks. For AUC students, either three or four intensives (depending on the Major and graduating year) consist of mandatory courses. Considering AUC students have to build their own curriculum, the intensive programme has lead to some problems.

One of the main reasons students struggle with planning their intensives is the lack of options given by AUC. For some students studying specific tracks, there are no intensives given at all. Myriam Bellamine, a second-year Social Science major, has struggled with this problem. “There are no Political Science intensives, they are all International Relations, the ones that are actually Political Philosophy are counted as Humanities courses,” she said. Although a Humanities intensive could be an option, there is still the problem of prerequisites and graduation requirements for Bellamine.

Lanie Preston, a second-year Science major, notes that in the Information track there is only one intensive. After taking that intensive in June of her first year there were no other intensives for her to do because she already did her language requirements at a university elsewhere . “There was quite literally nothing I could take at AUC so my tutor recommended taking a fifth course in the rest of my semesters so I could take intensives off,” she said. “This seems a bit of a ridiculous solution, since five courses can be extremely demanding especially in the second and third year of AUC.”

Furthermore, students have struggled with intensives, especially language courses, getting cancelled multiple times during their studies because of a lack of registration. Frederiek Tijssens, a second-year Social Science major, is now doing an intensive she did not want to do because of cancellations. Tijssens asked her tutor about her language requirement in her first year, to make sure that she can do a higher level at AUC. After being reassured that the she can take two consecutive levels, her language course has been cancelled twice. “So I went back to my tutor, and now he’s telling me that my high level language course has never been taught,” she said.

Many students search for different options because of the limited amount of courses offered by AUC. Floor Kouwenberg, a second-year Social Science major, has done all the mandatory intensives and decided to do her internship and a course at the Vrije Universiteit instead. She is also still doing Information Lab, the one intensive that is an option for her, though this is not a course she actually wants to take. “There aren’t any other options for me, so I have to do my internship and an off-campus course now,” said Kouwenberg. “Even though I’d prefer an AUC course.”

Even in tracks where more than one intensive is on offer, students can struggle with their options for the intensives because some are available in only one semester. Anna van Elst, a second-year Humanities major, said: “I think I’m quite lucky with my intensives because I did courses that can get me into two intensives. They are both in June, though, so for January I can only do languages.” This is something AUC students who want to go on exchange struggle with as well, since they are often gone for one of the intensives.


Although there are many issues regarding AUC’s intensives, students are enthusiastic about the chance to focus solely on one course for a while. “I think it’s a great opportunity to learn something in-depth, but it just needs to be better executed,” said Preston. For students to enjoy such an intense program, there should be enough options for them to do something they are generally interested in. “I feel like AUC needs to step up and provide more prerequisite-free options or at least two to three options for each track in the intensive,” said Preston.


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