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Universities reduce binding recommendation (BSA) standards

In view of the coronavirus crisis, the 14 Dutch universities have elected to reduce the standards for the binding recommendation (BSA) by between 10 and 15% for the current academic year. This means that first-year students can progress to the next year of their programme with fewer ECTS. Universities will continue to be able to adjust the BSA standards for individual degree programmes if they feel the specific circumstances of those degree programmes require it. Furthermore, the existing standards will continue to offer scope to make exceptions for individual students who have experienced difficulties.

A formal decision needs to be made by the University of Twente to apply the standard to the UT's situation. This may take place next week. The University Council will be consulted for this, too. After a decision is made, this will be communicated on

In the recent period, the universities monitored their curriculum offer and the progress of their students carefully. This revealed that study progress was steady, as it was in the final semester of last academic year, so the universities feel it is important to continue to issue BSAs. On the other hand, their monitoring also revealed that student well-being was under severe threat, a situation that will only be exacerbated by the lockdown extension announced this week.

The universities have therefore decided that these extraordinary circumstances justify an overall reduction of the BSA standards. They will also continue to make every possible effort to help students address any problems they encounter as a consequence of the coronavirus measures. See the accompanying e-zine (Dutch only) for examples of initiatives to promote student well-being. The universities and the national student unions ISO and LSVb will now investigate jointly what else they can do to improve the well-being of students.

Prior to 1 February

In November, the universities agreed to postpone introducing an overall adjustment of the BSA standards this academic year. This was because first-year students were receiving (and are continuing to receive) almost the full curriculum and there was hardly any evidence of academic delay in the past academic year. Instead, they agreed to continue to monitor their curriculum offer and the progress of their students carefully. If required, specific degree programmes could nevertheless decide to adjust the BSA for first-year students in consultation with the programme committee, for instance, if the degree programme was genuinely unable to offer certain practical courses or other courses. It was agreed that the students of the degree programmes concerned would be informed prior to 1 February 2021. 

Update 20 January 2021

A UT decision has been taken and can be found here.

L.P.W. van der Velde (Laurens)
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