Is this the end for Binding Study Advise at Hanze?

Whether the Binding Study Advice will disappear completely is not yet certain. But it is beyond doubt that future first-year students will have to deal with Personal Study Advice.

‘We are in favour of Personal Study Advice,’ says Paul Zuurmond, chair of the HSV faction in the Hanze Representative Council (HMR). ‘It means more guidance for first-year students, more attention to the problems they encounter as newcomers in higher education. Of course, as a student, you can’t be against that.’

All 450 first-year Law students will receive personal study advice at the end of this academic year

The Executive Board would prefer it if all Hanze programmes would introduce Personal Study Advice and the accompanying guidance for first-year students. This could then also mean the end of the Binding Study Advice (BSA), which for 25 years now has been the way to expel students who receive too few credits in the first year.

The Hanze School of Law is already working with PSA, on a trial basis. This means that 450 first-year students will not receive binding study advice at the end of this academic year. Lecturer Cindy Hoogenberg: ‘The study results take a back seat. Guidance is about the development of the first-year students. The conversations we have are based on equality.’ Her colleague Jolanda Kuipers-Keizer: ‘The study programme should be a place you like to go to on a daily basis. An environment where people are interested in you.’

‘Lecturers fear that they will have too little time to properly give shape to this intensive student guidance’

‘I think that would definitely contribute to student welfare,’ says Julius Stalpers, who, like Paul, is a member of the HMR faction of the Hanze Studentenbelangen Vereniging (which means Students Interests Association (HSV). ‘And it could also lead to fewer student dropouts.’ Yet the two HSV members, like the entire HMR, have reservations. Julius: ‘Those are mainly on the organisational side. The decentralised representation councils tell us that there is a lot of unrest among lecturers. They fear that they will have too little time to properly give shape to this more intensive student guidance.’ Paul: ‘A good PSA approach costs a lot of time and money. And the workload among lecturers is a lingering problem, as is staff shortage.’

HMR also questions the abolition of Binding Study Advice (BSA). Paul: ‘In our view, you don’t necessarily have to abolish BSA. Certainly not if programmes are not yet ready for it. Whatever you think of BSA, for students it is clear. If you obtain a certain number of credits in the first year, you are allowed to continue. If you scrap that standard, you remove the incentive to study hard. Some students benefit from such a stick.’ Julius: ‘Abolishing BSA could also lead to a growth in the number of long-term students.’

The existence of a transition norm, the big stick, is news for HMR-members Paul and Julius

Agnes Meijer, leader of the Personal Study Advice project, points out that the PSA does come with a big stick. ‘That is the doorstroomnorm (i.e. the transition norm, ed.) which is laid down in the Student Charter. When that norm is forty credits, freshmen know that they have to pass forty out of sixty to be able to participate in education in the main phase.’

This is news to Paul and Julius. ‘The term transition norm does not appear in the current statute,’ says Julius. ‘Whether it is in the Student Charter for the next academic year, I actually don’t know,’ says Paul. ‘We still have to discuss that statute. We haven’t agreed to it anyway.’

According to HMR president Peter Siebrecht, September 2024 is simply too soon. ‘I am very much in favour of PSA and the student-centred approach that goes with it. But the PSA trial is just past the halfway point right now. The proper moment for evaluation is at the end of the pilot. So that’s at the end of this academic year.’