‘Since nearly all teaching activities are being offered to first-year students, and since there was hardly any study delay last academic year, we don’t expect any study delay among first-year students as yet,’ wrote TU/e secretary Susanne van Weelden yesterday in the Executive Board’s weekly corona update. That is why the Executive Board decided not to apply a generic leniency measure for the binding study advice (BSA). A decision that was made in consultation with the other Dutch universities.
In mid-March, it turned out that research universities and applied sciences universities have different views on the implementation of the BSA in times corona. Universities of applied sciences quickly decided that all first-year students should be granted an extension of the BSA. Everyone was allowed to continue with their second year and to complete the missing courses at a later stage. Some applied sciences universities even decided to completely suspend the BSA.
Some research universities steered a different course. Wageningen for example lowered the BSA norm, but didn’t suspend it. Other universities wanted to find out whether study-delay suffered by students was actually coronavirus-related. First analyses also showed that students had hardly obtained significantly fewer credits during the first corona wave.
TU/e’s Executive Board says that it will continue to closely monitor the teaching activities on offer and students’ study progress. The update states what this could eventually lead to: ‘If necessary, in consultation with the Program Committee, specific departments may decide to show leniency to their first-year students by applying a leniency measure.’
The universities share their decisions on where and how to apply leniency measures nationwide. The Executive Board says that the under the current rules, it is also possible for individual students to ask for leniency in case they find themselves in a disproportionately severe situation. These students are advised to contact the study advisor.
The Dutch Student Union (LSVb) is disappointed. “The situation has only become increasingly difficult for current first-year students because they’ve never experienced education outside the corona crisis,” chairman Lyle Muns says. He also thinks it’s strange that universities of applied sciences offer their student generic extension while research universities do not.
The outbreak of the corona crisis has led to much debate about the BSA. The House of Representatives wants minister Ingrid van Engelshoven to talk to the institutions about the abolishment of the BSA. She is not adverse to the idea, but higher education has major objections.