Science - January 27, 2005

University wants ‘binding advice’

Wageningen University is preparing the introduction of a binding recommendation regarding continuation of study. This measure will make it possible to stop students who do not perform well enough from continuing their studies.

In doing so Wageningen is following the trend set by other Dutch universities in formalising the binding recommendation with regard to continuing study (Bindend Studieadvies, BSa). This will make it possible to prevent students from continuing their studies if their grades are not high enough. The norm used by many universities is that students must have got at least half (30 ECTS) of the points required to continue.

Paul Deneer, head of the department of education, sees the measure as an important addition to supervisors’ aids: ‘We are concerned to be able to identify the students who are less likely to get a degree. Until now, this was difficult. Introducing a binding recommendation will make it easier for us to act.’

For the measure to be introduced it will be necessary to change the education and examinations regulations (OER), and this requires the approval of the student council. Deneer expects to be able to present a proposal for change to the student council this spring. The student union WSO is not in favour of the university’s plans. Ben Schaap of the WSO Steunpunt: ‘We are hearing of lots of complaints about the BSa at other universities. It seems that students who receive a negative recommendation are running into conflict with the institution, especially if it is a matter of personal problems, when it is difficult to assess whether the BSa is justified. In these cases, both student and university are likely to be better off with a well-thought-out recommendation that is not binding.’

The Food Technology group has used the introduction of the BSa to invite all the Chinese students who started in the bachelor’s programme last year for individual talks. Coordinator Ralf Hartemink: ‘All the students showed up for their talks. We warned them that the BSa was likely to be introduced, and that it would mean consequences for them if they did not earn enough study points. But you must understand, it’s got nothing to do with them personally, their study results are just not up to scratch.’ / JH

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