THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT.Universities may not force second-year students with negative binding study advice (BSA) to leave their study programme, confirmed education minister Jet Bussemaker in a letter to parliament. Last academic year, the Maastricht psychology faculty considered introducing a so-called ‘extended’ BSA.
The decision was postponed, however, because the Faculty Council opposed it. “While we were working on the issue, the news of Bussemaker’s letter was reported and so we immediately abandoned the idea”, says Hanneke van Mier, chair of the Examination Board. The Faculty Board saw the extended BSA as a solution for second-year students who started following courses from the third year before having completed all outstanding courses from the first year. “We’ve now solved that problem by adding a rule in the OER [the education and examination regulations –Ed.] stating that first-year students may only follow courses from year one and second-year students may only follow courses from years one and two.”
Students receive BSA at the end of their first year, and those who are clearly unsuited to their programme may be made to leave. But many programmes bended the rules too much. Students could stay, but only under certain conditions. For instance, first-year students would be permitted to stay on if they obtained more than forty out of sixty study credits, but if they had not completed all first-year courses by the end of their second year they still risked being force out. This is not allowed, according to Bussemaker. Programmes may only decide on a student’s suitability at one point in the programme, and may not attach further conditions to this, including any form of ‘postponed’ or conditional BSA.
In May, despite a series of lost lawsuits, various study programmes were found to still be applying their own rules. The minister was questioned about this by Labour Party (PvdA) politicians and many universities and universities of applied sciences quickly adapted their rules. Those that have not will be required to do so, according to Bussemaker’s letter.