Wageningen University may evaluate PhD students and dismiss them during their first doctoral year. This ruling is made by the Council of State last week in a lawsuit brought by a foreign PhD candidate against the Doctorate Board.
In February 2009, the Doctorate Board discontinued the PhD programme of a candidate from Armenia because she failed to fulfil eleven of the seventeen evaluation criteria. The PhD candidate objected to this evaluation on the grounds that it was carried out eight months too soon; she claimed the university could only have given a proper evaluation of her progress and quality after one year. The Doctorate Board declared her objection as unfounded in June 2009. The PhD candidate subsequently filed an appeal against this decision at a court in Arnhem. When that too ruled in April 2010that the university was in the right, she took her appeal higher to the Council of State, which gave its judgement on 30 March.
The Council of State ruled, as the court did, that the university may itself decide when to appraise a PhD candidate. According to Vink, this is the first time that a PhD candidate has taken the university to court to annul a negative appraisal.