4 September 2018 • HOP, Bas Belleman
Minister wants to make the binding study advice less strict
Minister Van Engelshoven wants to end the strict standards for the binding study advice for first year students. They would only have to achieve 40 of the 60 credits in the future. Many research universities and universities of applied sciences have a stricter standard, for example 50 credits.
The D66 minister still needs to get a majority in the Lower House behind her proposal. The plan is not in the coalition agreement, so the coalition parties (as well as D66 they are the VVD, CDA and the ChristenUnie) will have to consider it. The new ‘ceiling’ will apply from the next academic year at the earliest.
Van Engelshoven’s objective is to remove the ‘unnecessary hurdles’ for students in the first year, she explains. She also hopes the ‘mental pressure’ on students will decrease now that the standard will be lowered somewhat.
“With a BSA of 50 or 60 credits in the first year, you affect students at their most vulnerable time, at the start of their studies”, states Van Engelshoven. The students that are affected the most are those who are the first in their family to follow a degree programme and have to get used to their ‘new life as a student’. She also hopes to give late starters more opportunities through this.
The binding study advice is initially intended to asses on time whether a student is suitable for the degree programme. Research universities and universities of applied sciences could prevent poor students from floundering for years and then failing in the end.
According to the minister, degree programmes nowadays use the BSA to filter out slow students and increase the ‘yield’ of the degree programme. “I don’t want the system to have that effect, so I want to tackle it”, she says. “Someone who passes two-thirds of the first year cannot be in the wrong place or in a hopeless position.
Two years ago, it became apparent that universities of applied sciences and research universities were violating the law en masse with their binding study advice by also dismissing students at the end of the second year. A series of rulings made by the Board of Appeal for Higher Education (CBHO) put a stop to that. Institutions quickly amended their rules, but by then hundreds of students had already been unjustifiably dismissed. In principle, they were allowed to return. About forty students actually did that.
However, research universities and universities of applied sciences had too much freedom to set their own standards. This spring, the Erasmus University and the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences won two court cases against students who contested the strict BSA standard of 60 points.
If it’s up to minister Van Engelshoven, that will be a thing of the past. In autumn she will submit a letter about accessibility in higher education, in which she will further elaborate this proposal. She hopes that educational institutes will take the lead and adjust their standards already.
Minister hopes to decrease students’ mental stress with less strict BSA.