According to Bussemaker, educational institutions have applied the bsa incorrectly for years, and in doing so have broken the law. And she wants to put an end to this. ‘Under no circumstances should students be allowed to suffer from this’, she writes to students and the Lower House.
Universities are only allowed to give a negative advice once, according to the justices at the Appeals Tribunal for Higher Education (CBHO) decided earlier. And that means, Bussemaker emphasises, that after the binding study advice in the first year, universities are not allowed to demand that students finish their propaedeutic phase by the end of the second year.
The RUG does demand this. Since 2010, the bsa handbook has stated that, in addition to 45 ECTS in the first year, students need to have finished their propaedeutic phase by the end of the second year (p-in-2). Should they not succeed at this, they must quit.
The RUG maintains that there is ‘nothing wrong’ with their own rules, which were introduced in order to increase student success rates. Pending the minister’s reaction, the university did adapt the rules for students from the 2015-2016 academic year. Now that Bussemaker is clearly stating that the bsa rules have been in breach of the law for years, it would make sense for the RUG to abolish the p-in-2 for all academic years. But the university is not quite prepared to do that yet.
‘It will be brought before the University Council soon. They need to approve the policy change’, says spokesperson Riepko Buikema. How the change will be made depends on the University Council, he says.
According to student party Lijst Calimero faction head Daan van Dijk, Bussemaker has been clear. ‘She says it’s not allowed’, he responds. ‘The bsa rules need to obey the law. The RUG needs to obey the law. It should be legal.’
Bart Beyer of the Personnel faction agrees. ‘The consequences should be that the p-in-2 is done away with. New rules have to be established. What those will look like is something we’ll be discussing during a council meeting in late September.’
Van Dijk wonders how the RUG will respond to Bussemaker’s letter. ‘We don’t want the university to find some roundabout way to continue excluding people.’
The Landelijk Studenten Overleg (National Student Association Council) and the Landelijk Studenten Rechtsbureau (National Student Law Office) are considering suing several universities that unjustly dismissed students using the p-in-2 rule. Van Dijk thinks that Groningen students should follow that example. ‘I think it would be good for students who feel aggrieved to challenge this, to find out if they were truly dismissed illegally.’
According to Bussemaker, there are exceptions to the main rule. A study advice can be given at a date later than the end of the academic year in the case of mitigating personal circumstances, part-time students, or people who enrolled later in the year. But even then, the binding study advice may only be given once.