6 November 2018 • HOP, Bas Belleman
BSA: minister wanted to put the cat among the pigeons
Will Minister Van Engelshoven reduce the binding study advice as she stated at the opening of the academic year? She now says she mainly wanted to spark a discussion.
On 1 November, Minister of Education Van Engelshoven defended her ministry’s budget in parliament. After a tug of war about investments and cuts, she soon brought up the topic of the binding study advice for first-year students.
With a bit of a drumroll, she had announced she was going to tackle it. Her idea was to reduce the standard to 40 credits. But she could not get the backing of a majority in the House of Representatives. Last week, her plan seemed somewhat watered down. She now wants to enter discussions with research universities and universities of applied sciences about the BSA standard and support for first-year students.
“And I see some of you thinking: wasn’t she more steadfast before?” said Van Engelshoven. “Sometimes you need to throw the cat among the pigeons to get a discussion started.” SP MP Frank Futselaar wasn’t satisfied with that. “That is surely not becoming of a minister, causing an uproar across education and if students no longer know where they stand? You can’t simply say: I just wanted to start a discussion.”
A commotion broke out about the minister’s precise wording. She really does want to reduce the BSA, she maintained, but she is also going to enter discussions and do some research. Judith Tielen from the governing party VVD finds it a bit vague. “I want to hear clearly from the minister one more time what she is and is not planning. In spring, I don’t want more discussion about what she meant.”
Van Engelshoven hinted at her intentions. She may set demands on the BSA if it is higher than 40 credits. Then, for instance, degree programmes will have to demonstrate that they provide good support. “That is not what I have in mind, at all”, said Tielen. She has no problem with the binding study advice as it currently stands. The minister continued her argument but on this point, she left both opposition MPs and coalition partners dissatisfied.
Also read Rajash Rawal’s blog about the BSA.
With her BSA plan, Minister Van Engelshoven mainly wanted to spark a discussion.