Students can take as long as they like, their credits will remain valid. As of 1 January, programmes may no longer cancel outdated examination results

because the Higher Education Act has been amended. It was not really the intention but, according to education expert Peter Kwikkers, programmes cannot take credits away from slow students any more.

Students on a lot of programmes ‘lose’ credits in this way if they take too long with their studies. Universities use the method to urge their students to ‘speed up’ and Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker has so far allowed it.

Warped ideas about performance

But the Lower House opposes these ‘warped ideas about performance’. In the opinion of most parliamentarians, credits should only lapse if the knowledge tested is demonstrably out of date. The personal circumstances of the students in question should, furthermore, be taken into account, as is the case with a binding study advice in the first year.

Unfortunately, however, the Labour Party (PvdA) and Socialist Party (SP) made a rather inept job of drawing up their amendment. It looked as though credits could never lapse as long as special personal circumstances were involved. The Upper House sounded the alarm

and now Minister Bussemaker has to reformulate the amendment before it goes into effect. To this end, she has to have permission from the Lower and Upper Houses, which will all take time.

The old section of the act which limits the validity period of examinations has changed effective 1 January 2017, whereas the new section has not yet gone into effect. Consequently, a lacuna has arisen. Kwikkers immediately launched a service for slow students on his website. For a hundred euros, he will raise the issue with their university or university of applied technology for them.

Valid again

According to Kwikkers, the consequences are even greater: credits which were taken off students in the past are also simply valid again. But he hopes that students will think carefully before taking advantage of the situation: “I would not like to have it on my conscience that a trainee physiotherapist who has not massaged any muscles for the last fifteen years gets all his/her credits back just like that.”

Incidentally, Kwikkers has been fulminating for years against the taking away of students’ credits to encourage them to get through their programmes faster. To his way of thinking, that was in breach of the old act, too, even though the Appeals Tribunal for Higher Education (CBHO) did not agree.