Law students no longer allowed to erase as many grades, extended oral exam scrapped

In the future, law students will only be allowed to have one grade erased instead of two. They’ll also no longer be able to compensate for a failed first-year exam with an extended oral exam. 

This is the compromise that students and lecturers on the faculty board have reached together. 

The faculty board proposed more radical changes: students wouldn’t be allowed to have any grades erased or decide whether they wanted lecturers to grade their exams.

The lecturers thought this was a good idea, but the students, represented by Marieke Schunselaar of Ten Behoeve van Rechtenstudenten (TBR) and Lucas Buma with Progressief Rechten, disagreed. The changes would cause students more stress to achieve their BSA, among other things, they said. 

Extended oral exam

The various programme committees, which had been asked for advice on the matter, were hopelessly divided on the issues, with the exception of one: the extended oral exam, which allows first-year students to compensate for a failing grade of 5 points on a resit (but only if they got at least 4 points on the original exam). No other law faculty has this rule, and law is the only UG faculty that has it. 

There’s a reason it’s not a popular measure, the lecturers said: it’s time-consuming and isn’t a proper way to test students’ knowledge. ‘It’s impossible to ascertain in fifteen to twenty minutes whether students have reached a certain level’, lecturer Laurent Jensma said during the faculty board meeting. Because approximately half of students succeed during these oral exams, you might as well toss a coin, suggested educational director Jaap Dijkstra.

Marc de Groot of TBR (also vice-chairman of the faculty council) once sat an extended oral exam himself, he said. ‘I might have fallen between the cracks if I hadn’t been given that opportunity.’ But lecturer Matthijs van Wolferen swept that argument off the table. ‘It’s not like that would’ve meant you’d never be a great lawyer. You just didn’t get the chance that year.’

No bad grades

The lecturers were also in favour of grading every single exam and no longer erasing grades. ‘I think it’s detrimental to students to allow them to just take an exam for the sake of it’, said Pepijn Tukker, lecturer and former tutor. It wouldn’t teach them to make deliberate choices.

But for students, it’s important to prevent bad grades and have their transcript look as attractive as possible, De Groot argued. After all, future employers prefer transcripts that haven’t been cleaned up and include a person’s failing grades.

The student faction would have preferred to wait for the results of the national discussion on the issue: universities are being called on to no longer provide the transcripts. But that will never happen, said dean Wilbert Kolkman, since it’s students themselves who request the transcript, and they have a right to it.

Nederlands

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