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  1. J. van Gijn, Professor of Neurology
  1. Department of Neurology, University Medical Centre, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, the Netherlands; E-mail: J.vanGijn{at}


With 16 million inhabitants the Dutch take some meagre consolation in being the biggest of the small European countries. That they no longer rule the world’s oceans is a loss felt less deeply than by some of our neighbours. At any rate, the Dutch now dominate the holiday resorts in France and Spain.


In the 1980s there were about 200 students per year in each of the eight medical schools, at a time when the eternally false predictions about the required number of doctors had resulted in an oversupply. The inevitable swing in the opposite direction began in the current decade, hence the number of first-year students has now increased to almost 400 per university. The numerous applicants are selected by lottery, with only some weighting based on the results of the national finals in secondary school. Squandering young talent by the dice has always sounded strange to

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