House: Universities should be more flexible on BSA

| HOP, Evelien Flink

Dutch research universities should be more flexible with their criteria for the so-called BSA, the binding recommendation on the continuation of studies, say MPs. A motion to this effect was adopted by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Photo by: flickr creative commons | Ron de Boom

Due to coronavirus, the universities of applied sciences have deferred all BSAs for a year. The research universities, however, have thus far opposed such a national approach. Individual institutions and programmes are left to decide for themselves whether students are forced to leave if they fail to obtain enough credits in their first year.

This approach has met with resistance from students. In recent weeks they have started a petition and written urgent letters to university boards. The BSA has also been arousing emotions in Parliament.

Revised criteria

In their motion, D66 and GroenLinks called on universities to ‘not apply the BSA in full in this academic year, but to arrive at revised criteria which do justice to the current extraordinary circumstances’. The majority of MPs agreed, with only the VVD, CDA and SGP groups voting against.

The motion addressed the universities themselves rather than the government. Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven has stated previously that she officially has ‘no opinion’ on this issue, but believes that it would be good for the House to make its view known loudly and clearly. She has also said that she sees no point in again discussing the BSA directly with universities.

Huge stress

Although the matter is now firmly back in the hands of the universities, the Dutch National Students’ Association (ISO) and the Dutch Student Union (LSVb) both welcome the outcome of the vote. ‘The BSA causes huge amounts of stress every year, something students can do without right now’, says ISO president Dahran Çoban. ‘This decision should bring peace of mind.’ LSVb president Lyle Muns calls on universities to ‘respond quickly to the wishes of the House’.

The House of Representatives also voted yesterday on a series of amendments to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science budget. Different parties tabled a variety of proposals to help higher education through the coronavirus crisis, ranging from allocating millions of euros for delayed scientific research to establishing a ‘solidarity fund’ for students. All these amendments were rejected, however.

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