Dutch Minister Bussemaker is to introduce legislation allowing programmes to fine students 20 euro for late exam registration. Educational institutes are free to act in anticipation of these changes.

Until recently, students registering late for an exam incurred extra fees in order to sit their examination. These charges could be high: early last year there was anger when a Leiden student had to pay 225 euro in late registration fees for several of her exams.

Officially, educational institutions were not allowed to charge these penalties. The education inspectorate has previously stated that universities and universities of applied sciences could not charge any additional amounts above tuition fees. They could, however, bar late entrants from sitting exams. Students were not happy about this either, as most would rather pay twenty euros and be admitted to an exam, rather than risk a delay in their study progress.

See also: Payment for late registration for exams is a ‘service’ not a penalty

‘Not appropriate’

With guidance from Minister Bussemaker, student organisations ISO and LSVb, the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences and the VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands) reached a compromise. The minister informed the House of Representatives and institutions that up to 20 euro can be charged. Although this means that the Dutch Higher Education Act needs to be amended, institutions should not be concerned in the meanwhile; all parties ‘consider active enforcement’ to be ‘not appropriate’.

As early as October last year Minister Bussemaker announced that a compromise was in the making. In the mean time, she preferred not to keep badgering institutions, saying “If the majority in the Chamber want me to clamp down on institutions, I will”. That was not the case.

Automatic registration

Student organisations would have preferred students to be automatically registered for exams when they register for a course. “Combined registration prevents misunderstandings,” says ISO chair Rosanne Broekhuizen.

See also: Exams in Utrecht: ‘Automatic registration works’

In her letter to institutions the minister gives more details about charges that are and are not allowed. For example, extra fees cannot be charged for thesis supervision, study information and computer facilities. Additional amounts can be charged for sport facilities, except in those cases where they are essential for the study programme. Excursions may also require additional payment, but a free cost alternative should also be made available.

Students are responsible for purchasing books, lab coats and safety glasses, but it’s up to them where they purchase these from. A study programme cannot, for instance, require students to purchase a lab coat from the institution. HOP