Credits of tardy students may indeed lapse, the Ministry of Education has stated. Legislation changed from 1 January, but the Ministry has acknowledged that it includes an error.

If you take the legislation’s wording literally, examination marks may no longer lapse. For the time being students could continue to dawdle happily. The discovery was revealed by educational expert Peter Kwikkers last week.

It’s customary for universities and universities of applied sciences to cancel the credits of tardy students. This threat is an incentive for them to study faster. It’s a thorn in the side of many parties in the Lower House.

Outdated knowledge

Soon therefore, the withdrawal of credits may only occur if the tested knowledge is demonstrably outdated. Medical studies could be a good example. But things went wrong with a clumsily-formulated amendment, and now cancellation of credits has disappeared entirely from the legislation.

A ‘slip of the pen’ caused the original provision to be replaced, the Ministry has conceded. “But the legislator’s intention is clear. So one should simply continue to assume the former provision. We call upon institutions only to limit the validity of examinations if this involves outdated knowledge.”

‘Unlimited validity was never the intention’

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) was not yet able to respond, but the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging Hogescholen) did. They still question the new provision in the legislation, according to a spokesman, but it is “nevertheless clear that unlimited validity for all examinations has never been the intention, neither of the Lower and Upper Houses, nor of the Minister.”

Yet there is now nothing about this in the legislation. This may lead to a court challenge, because a dozen or so students have already contacted Kwikkers.

In discussions on this topic (may you withdraw credits from students to get them to study faster?) the Ministry in fact referred to the actual legislative wording, and the intention of the legislator at the time was put in brackets. At the time the Lower House wanted to prevent knowledge being outdated, and no performance measure was envisaged.