“It looks as if EUR is rather manipulating the binding study advice,” says LSR president Lars Klappe, who is doing a law degree at EUR. “We want the court to rule on whether this strict standard is acceptable.” He feels that students who fail to obtain all sixty credits are being sent away from the university unfairly. “According to the law, an institution can impose a binding study advice if a student proves unsuitable. However, we wonder whether you can call someone who doesn’t obtain sixty credits unsuitable.”

The case features a student who was given a negative study advice in the last academic year and who had to leave the programme. The LSR is lodging an appeal against that negative binding study advice with the Appeals Tribunal for Higher Education (CBHO).

Education court previously expressed doubts

This is not the first time that students have appealed to the CBHO on account of N=N. In 2015, a law student appealed against a negative binding study advice. In an interim ruling, the education court questioned the legality of the rule, expressing virtually the same doubts as the LSR has now.

The education court wondered whether N=N, ‘in view of the goal and scope, is in line with the legal requirement that a negative binding study advice could only be given if a student is unsuitable for the programme.’ The case was ultimately settled, without the court giving a definitive ruling on Nominal is Normal.

Partly as a result of this interim ruling, Klappe feels that the case has a reasonably good chance of success. “It’s always difficult to call, but the former president of the CBHO has already expressed doubts about the legality of Nominal is Normal.”

Plenty of opportunities

The university ‘is disappointed about the test case,’ says spokesperson Jacco Neleman. He emphasises the fact that EUR introduced N=N to help students through their first year as well as possible, enabling them to embark on the second year with a clean sheet. He also points out that N=N is more than a binding study advice. Activating education, interim test moments and assignments, fewer resits, compensation options and (in many programmes) problem-based learning are part of this approach.

Furthermore, students are given plenty of opportunities to obtain a positive binding study advice, according to the university: “It’s certainly not the case that a student who fails one subject is immediately given a negative study advice. In fact the reverse is true: a student who drops out has often already compensated unsatisfactory grades and done resits and still failed to obtain the credits.”

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