Earlier this month, the Dutch Lower House adopted a motion asking that ‘flexible study’ be enshrined in law, which means that starting from 2023, students will be able to pay for each credit they earn or for each individual module they take. An experiment is currently under way at several tertiary education institutions in which students enrolled in a limited number of degree programmes are allowed to pay for each credit they earn. The idea behind this experiment is that flexible study will make it easier for students to look after a loved one, work or establish their own company on top of working towards their degree.
On the one hand, Erasmus University Rector Rutger Engels believes this is a good idea. “But whether or not this will properly contribute to a student’s personal and professional development will depend on how we work out the scheme. An academic degree programme is more than just a collection of courses. It’s vital that there be some coherence.”
Dutch MPs: students should be able to pay per credit from 2023 onwards
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The Rector believes it is too early to say anything about the requirements for flexible study, or about the types of students who may be offered flexible learning options. “Offering individual modules may be an interesting option for students who might otherwise miss out. It will allow them to complete their degrees at their own pace. It might be a good idea for, say, students who have to combine their studies with a job or the care of a loved one.” Engels wishes to see the results of the nation-wide pilot study before further weighing in on the subject.
The flexible learning pilot study will continue until 2023. At present three universities and two universities of applied sciences are taking part in it. During the second stage of the experiment, another twelve higher education institutions will be added to the study. Erasmus University will not be one of them. However, EUR has taken a few initiatives to enable more flexible learning, e.g. by allowing students to take some of their minor courses at Leiden University or Delft University of Technology, and by establishing a working group that will seek to determine how the university can offer more personalised and more flexible learning options.