MAASTRICHT. The Faculty Council at Psychology and Neuroscience does not support the extended Binding Study Advice (BSA) as currently proposed by the Faculty Board.
First-year Psychology students are already subject to BSA: they need to obtain 42 out of 60 credits to be allowed to progress to the second year. The extended BSA would require students to complete all first-year courses within two years, otherwise they will not be allowed to continue with the programme. The Faculty Council, during its meeting last Thursday, described this as unfair, counterproductive and difficult to justify. The Examination Board and the council members will meet to discuss the circumstances under which the council can support the extended BSA. This may result in the introduction of the extended BSA being delayed by one year.
“We fear that students will put all their efforts into passing that one outstanding first-year course and neglect everything else”, said Michael Capalbo, council member for the academic staff. “This will only lead to even bigger delays. On top of that, it’s conceivable that someone who passes 75 percent of the first year and 75 percent of the second year will be forced out, while a student who passed the entire first year but next to nothing in the second year will be allowed to stay. That’s not fair. Finally, we understand that you have to draw a line somewhere, but we think showing someone the door who’s already invested two years’ worth of time and money is hard to justify.”
In practice, says Hanneke van Mier, chair of the Examination Board, the measure will only affect students whose studies were going poorly anyway. “Last year there was only one student with just one first-year course outstanding. In those kinds of individual cases, we can make exceptions." The aim of the extended BSA is to prevent students from postponing courses. “We now have third- and fourth-year students who still have a first-year course outstanding. As a result they can’t follow other courses – without Statistics 1 you can’t start Statistics 2 – which in turn leads to delays and frustration.”
In the council’s view, there must be other ways to alert students to this risk. “This is not nudging them in the right direction; it’s putting them on a chopping block”, said Capalbo. He suggested looking at students’ progress in the second year rather than focusing exclusively on the first-year courses. The Examination Board, according to Van Mier, would rather see a stricter BSA policy in the first year.