RUG students complaining more

A tour of research and applied sciences universities by the Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau (Press Agency Higher Education – HOP) reveals that students have more complaints now than ever before. The RUG is in the top four of the ‘complaints ranking’, but the university says this is not necessarily accurate.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

When students disagree with a decision made by their university, they can file a complaint with the university board or the Board of Appeal for Examinations (CBE). And they are making good use of that, the HOP calculated.

In 2015, a total of 2,032 complaints were filed at the universities, which is almost 400 more than the previous year. The RUG is in fourth place with 229 complaints in 2015 – an increase of 92 compared to 2013. Only the University of Amsterdam saw a larger increase: they had 136 more complaints in 2015 than two years earlier. In Groningen, students mainly complain about being rejected for a programme, exams being invalidated and the binding study advice, the university’s annual report.

‘National pressure’

‘A possible explanation for the increase in appeals is the national pressure on study success’, responds RUG spokesperson Riepko Buikema. ‘The past few years, passing your exams and finishing your degree has become increasingly important, so perhaps that is why the need for student appeals has risen.’

But the spokesperson does have a thing or two to say about the numbers in the ‘complaints ranking’. Of the 229 appeals, 45 were rescinded and the CBE deemed 69 of them unfounded. A further 72 appeals were settled before the appeals body had come to an official decision. ‘You have to question the validity of such an absolute number, because the number of appeals is also proportionate to the number of students at any given institute’, says Buikema.

But according to the HOP, it is clear that people are complaining more overall. And according to former judge Ben Olivier at the educational court CBHO, which recently caused universities to have to scrap their p-in-2 rule, they should do even more. ‘I’ll say it again: considering the amount of unpleasant decisions made by research and applied sciences universities, students actually complain too little’, he told the HOP.



  1. Spokesman: ‘A possible explanation for the increase in appeals is the national pressure on study success’ – my thought. It is morally questionable that students are the ones who are endowed with the almost complete responsibility to make sure the university stays among the higher ranked universities – or face being weeded out when posing even a slight risk. I suggest the uni to tend to their self-respect.


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