The recent legal wrangles involved two appeals against Erasmus University and one against Hogeschool Rotterdam. The students in question were sent down in their first year with a negative ‘binding study advice’ but contested this decision. The court did not find in their favour.

Not unreasonable

In one of the cases, the legal support centre Landelijk Studenten Rechtsbureau (LSR) was hoping for a ruling of principle against ‘Nominal=Normal’. In January, the students announced their plan to force such a ruling by initiating proceedings against an EUR decision. The heart of their argument: a binding study advice is intended to dismiss students who aren’t suited for their chosen degree programme. But can you actually call someone unsuited for simply failing to earn all the requisite credits in one go?

‘Nominal=Normal’ successfully weathered this storm at the Board of Appeal for Higher Education (College van Beroep voor het Hoger Onderwijs, CBHO). While the CBHO agrees the 60 credit norm is quite strict, it believes it is well considered and students have sufficient opportunities to actually earn this total. The judge has called the system ‘not manifestly unreasonable’.


The second case against Erasmus University was complicated by personal circumstances. The student had only missed a single examination. Under the compensation scheme, her total stood at 52.5 credits. Did this really make her unsuited for her degree programme? In the old days, the minimum had been set at 42 credits.

What’s more, it was a case of force majeure according to the student. She was unable to resit the exam because she had to attend a family reunion in Curaçao. But she didn’t have to take that decision, according the university, and the judge agrees. Leaving her with insufficient credits – with or without compensation.

In the appeal against Hogeschool Rotterdam’s decision, the student also referred to various personal circumstances, including a death in the family. But the university couldn’t establish whether his poor academic results were actually caused by these factors.