The Student-Staff Council (the consultative body of Wageningen University) has after all agreed to the introduction of a ‘binding study advice’ (BSA) which will make obtaining 36 ECTS credits a condition for progressing to the next academic year. Mediation efforts by the supervisory board brought the conflicting parties to an agreement.
Mid-May, the Student-Staff Council had rejected the BSA, mainly because it was afraid that after introducing the BSA, the university would gradually raise the threshold of 36 ECTS credits. For this reason, the Student-Staff Council demanded permanent advisory rights on potential changes. The executive council did not want to grant these rights, however, and launched a formal arbitration process. This legal process is seen as a last resort and is seldom used. The process entails bringing the issue before a national arbitration committee, but only after an attempt at mediation has been made by the supervisory council. This took place on Monday 26 May, chaired by Job Cohen and in the presence of supervisory board member Bert Bruggeman. After both the executive board and the student-staff council had expressed their points of view, Cohen saw scope for a compromise, says student member Jaap Löwenthal. ‘The student-staff council was above all afraid of a sudden raising of the bar without our being able to respond to it. That is why we wanted statutory advisory rights for longer than the three years that had been decided.’ The university was not prepared to do this, but rector Martin Kropff did promise that the consultative body would get advance warning of any changes. ‘That way we can give unsolicited advice, in effect achieving the same as we would if we had statutory rights,’ says Löwenthal.
In the end this satisfied the student-staff council, as was clear two days later during new consultations with the rector. This cleared the way for the introduction of a binding study advice in Wageningen, which will be in place from next academic year.