The discussion is quite urgent, since the 1st of February is coming up, this being the deadline by which students can de-enrol from their degree programme, only to take up the same degree programme again the next year.
University Council member Philip van Moll explained why this relaxation of the rules is so important: “We have found in surveys and conversations with first-year students that the binding study advice is a millstone around the first-year students’ necks. The coronavirus crisis itself is having quite a significant impact on students’ mental health, and for some of them, the anxiety associated with the strict requirements of the binding study advice is a factor that is making their lives even harder.”
Van Moll emphasised that while this definitely isn’t true for all students, action is required. “We are here to help all students, and there are certain students who are genuinely experiencing problems due to the combination of the coronavirus crisis and the strict requirements associated with the binding study advice. We’d like there to come a solution for those students who are struggling and whose marks are being impacted.”
Erasmus University requires its first-year students to obtain 60 credits by successfully completing all their courses in their first year in order to be allowed to stay on. In this respect, it is one of the stricter universities in the Netherlands. During the previous academic year, a more lenient arrangement was temporarily introduced for students who had been adversely impacted by the pandemic, but no such arrangement has yet been implemented for the current academic year.
Van Moll hopes that a discussion with the university’s executive board will change this. “All twelve student members of the University Council agree that a solution must be found. We are not sure yet what this solution is to be, but I, personally, think there are several options. For instance, students who don’t pass all their Year-1 exams could be granted an additional year, or the number of credits first-year students need to obtain to be allowed to stay on could be reduced.”
This week, students on the representative bodies of eleven Dutch universities have called on their universities’ executive boards to relax the binding study advice. The student representatives on EUR’s University Council support that request.