On Tuesday, the Dutch Education Minister announced his intention to overhaul the binding study advice (BSA) system for universities in the Netherlands. Under the new rules, students in the Netherlands would have to achieve 30 out of 60 credits to pass the first year of their course. Under the current rules, universities typically set the threshold at 45 credits.
Minister Dijkgraaf looking to overhaul BSA from 2025
The BSA is a system that allows higher education institutions to set a minimum credit requirement for first-year students and is designed to prevent students from dropping out of their courses at a later stage. Currently, the executive boards of universities are able to set their own requirements – if they set any at all – with many asking first-years to achieve a minimum of 45 of the total 60 credits. If students fail to do so, they’re forced to drop out of their course.
In March, the Minister for Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf, announced his intention to overhaul the BSA, explaining that the current rules placed too much pressure on the mental health and wellbeing of students. In order to relieve some of this pressure, Dijkgraaf would like to set a mandatory requirement of a maximum of 30 credits out of 60. The new rules would come into effect from the 2025 / 2026 academic year.
“Too much pressure has a paralysing effect, can lead to poorer learning performance and thus obscures the idea of whether or not a student is suitable for a course,” Dijkgraaf is quoted as saying by NOS, pointing out that starting university is already a stressful and overwhelming time for many young people as they leave home, struggle to secure student housing and try to find their feet.
Mixed reactions from students and universities in the Netherlands
Dijkgraaf’s plans have been met with mixed reactions. According to NOS, the National Student Union (LSVb) thinks the new requirements are a “good move”, while the Intercity Student Consultation (ISO) said they would allow for “a better balance… between the wellbeing of students and their study progress.”
Meanwhile, the universities themselves aren’t overly keen. NOS quotes the Association of Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) as calling the proposal a “bad plan” and arguing that universities should be able to set their own requirements. “The BSA ensures that students with sufficient prior knowledge continue their studies. With this new plan, many students will still drop out, but only after their second year,” UNL Chairman Pieter Duisenberg told the broadcaster.
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