The student delegation of the University of Twente's University Council wants to keep the binding study advice (BSA, which is the Dutch abbreviation for Bindend Studieadvies) with a minimum number of ECTS for now. They wrote this in a joint letter to Minister Dijkgraaf of Education, Culture and Science. The minister intends to change the current regulations and wants to adjust these in the short term. At the University of Twente, students must pass a minimum of 45 out of 60 credits in the first year of their bachelor's programme to continue.
Positive consequences of BSA
In their letter, the students provide several reasons why they believe it should remain possible for universities to continue using the binding study advice. For instance, the dropout rate of students at UT has stayed the same after the introduction of the BSA, but the year in which students drop out has changed. Currently, students mainly drop out in the first year of their studies, whereas a larger group dropped out of their studies in later years (years three and later) before the BSA was established at UT in 2013. Back then, this cost both students and institutions valuable years and had financial implications, to the detriment of student success, according to the student delegation.
Students also see the BSA as a helpful means to ensure the quality of project-based education. "This method of education is successful but is under pressure if too many students lack the knowledge, skills or attitude to make this project education successful." Additionally, the BSA helps to keep the group of so-called "free riders" small and in doing so, helps keep the quality of education and degrees high.
According to the student delegation, the new policy should have room for differentiation. Currently, the norm is that a university student must obtain 45 ECTS out of the maximum achievable 60. The students advocate that an appropriate threshold can vary per study programme and institution. At Wageningen University, for example, a standard of 36 ECTS is common and at University College Twente, 60 ECTS is used. Provided it is well argued, the students argue there should remain room for such differentiation. They, therefore, say that each programme should be able to make a well-considered choice based on reasons that they deem to be compelling.
Comprehending the renewal of regulations
Nevertheless, the student delegation understands and endorses that the current BSA is being revised. They share concerns about the high first-year dropout rate and stress associated with the binding nature of the BSA. Hence, they offer to think along with the Minister about an alternative interpretation of the BSA. "We reckon this discussion is a search for a different form or interpretation of the BSA, which should foster the accessibility of higher education and support student success. However, there exist major concerns among the student delegation if the point standard is simply lowered or the BSA is postponed to the second year, although these seem to be the most conceivable scenarios. Hence, we currently still argue in favour of retaining a BSA with a minimum number of credits."