In practice, this has been happening for years, but now it has been set out in black and white as part of a regulation that the government has published online to invite consultation. Until 8 June, anyone who wants to can comment on or criticise the planned measures.
Far from all universities and universities of applied sciences impose such fines. Some register students automatically for the exams on the courses they are taking, and this lends a measure of controversy to the exam fines, which the regulation refers to as ‘contributions’.
But for planning purposes, other institutions prefer students to register so that they know exactly how many people will show up for an exam. The alternative to a fine would be preventing students from sitting the exam, which would leave them behind schedule with their studies. The 20 euro fine is seen as a compromise with the student associations ISO and LSVb. The corresponding legislation was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives at the end of last year.
Other student costs are also specified in the regulation. For instance, an example in the explanatory notes states that an excursion to Egypt for a degree programme in Egyptology should be at the student’s own expense. Students will also be expected to pay for the food used in a nutrition lab.
Although programmes are obliged to offer a cost-free alternative if students cannot (or do not want to) pay for excursions or practicals, in cases where this is not possible – such as the trip to Egypt – that obligation will no longer apply.
Furthermore, educational institutions will also be permitted to charge for writing or networking workshops beyond the scope of the degree programme itself. Strictly speaking, these are not covered by the tuition fees that students have already paid. This also applies to other extras such as coffee and tea, introduction days, guest speakers and sports days, to name but a few.
At the same time, certain payments are capped by the regulation. Charges made by institutions for admission tests, issuing a certificate of good conduct and giving medical advice for admission to sports programmes may only cover the cost of the service provided. Even for replacing a lost degree certificate, there is a limit on what institutions can charge.
International students are also protected by the regulation. Institutions have to assess their qualifications thoroughly in advance, to determine whether they comply with admission requirements. The charge for this procedure has been set at a maximum of 100 euro.
Institutions will not be permitted to charge for things like access to buildings or taking certain courses. After all, these are aspects covered by students’ tuition fees and government funding.