A negative binding study advice (bsa) is not something you want. It means you’re kicked out of your study programme and you can’t re-enrol the next year. There is a way to prevent this: unenrol before a certain deadline, stopping the university from giving you any kind of study advice. That way you can try again next academic year.
Universities can decide their own bsa deadline. At the RUG, it is currently 1 February. But this has led to problems. By that date, few first-year students know yet whether they have the necessary 45 ECTS.
‘Both students and study advisers told us the 1 February deadline was too short’, says Gijs Verhoeff with Student Organisation Groningen (SOG). He is on the university council and the University Committee for Education (UCO).’ The study advisers felt like they couldn’t properly advise the students on what to do, and the students didn’t have enough time to make a proper decision.’
The results from exams taken during the second block aren’t usually known by 1 February. That makes the decision tough: do students unenrol because they have a bad feeling about the last exams they sat or do they stay in, hoping they got just enough points to move on to the second year?
According to study advisers, the deadline is causing stress for students and puts unnecessary pressure on staff. They have proposed moving the deadline to 1 March. Both the UCO and the university council think it’s a good idea. And so next year, the deadline will be a month later.
‘Much better’, says Hannah Bronsema (18), a first-year law student. The current deadline is a tight one for her. In the first block, she failed a 10 ECTS and a 5 ECTS course. ‘I can’t do a resit for the 10 ECTS course. There’s a resit for the 5 ECTS one in January. But if I don’t pass that, I will have to pass all my exams during the rest of the year in order to get a positive bsa.’
Because the resit isn’t until January, she probably won’t know her grade until right before 1 February. Bronsema will not have a lot of time to decide whether she’ll continue with her studies. ‘I’d rather know all my grades before I make up my mind.
Why do first-years have to make up their minds before 1 February? It’s because of DUO’s 1 February rule. First-years who terminate their financial aid before that date will not have to pay their travel card or their additional grant.
The RUG wanted to prevent different institutes using different deadlines, but by moving the unenrolment deadline they have become the institute with the different deadline. Verhoeff emphasises that the university should be clearer about the different dates.
‘It’s possible this could create a month-long gap where students don’t get any financial aid when they decide to quit’, he says. ‘Students should be made aware of this. But if the university informs them properly, it should be fine.’