Science - March 25, 2004

EU regulations make students’ working week longer

Students in Wageningen will have to work a 42-hour week for a large part of the year from now on, because Wageningen UR intends to go over to the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Universities that are open and transparent enough for foreign students can be awarded this EU label. Wageningen will have to introduce a new grading system and study point system.

From September this year all Dutch universities will go over to the new European study point system as the Dutch government has made this compulsory. Under the new system each academic year consists of 60 ECTS, the equivalent of 42 ‘old’ study points. As a result each period will be worth 12 points. In the first four periods, students will have to work a 42-hour week. The fifth period will become 64 study hours lighter, partly due to making the official holidays in this period such as Koninginnedag and Whitsun genuinely free days. In addition, the tenth week in the fifth period will be used for re-takes from the fourth period. These days no longer count towards study points.

Wageningen will also introduce the European grading system. Grades are no longer based on absolute values, but how a student performs relative to the other students in the group. The highest ten percent will get an A, the following 25 percent a B, the middle thirty percent a C, and the lowest groups a D or an E. These are all pass grades. Those who fail get an FX or and F. An FX means that only the exam was failed, but not the course work. An F grade means that the student has a lot of catching up to do. The database required to change systems is already in use in Wageningen. The new method gives teachers better insight into the changes in performance of students.

Guido van Hofwegen