Super busy due to Amsterdam student

An Amsterdam student is causing a lot of consternation at the RUG. His FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request has all the secretarial offices working overtime.

Several employees, who requested to remain anonymous, are bemoaning the enormous job Erik Verwiel, a journalism student at the University of Amsterdam, has saddled them with. In late December, he used a FOIA request to ask the exam committees at several universities for all their documents concerning cases of plagiarism from the past ten years.

Why he wants the documents remains unknown. Verwiel himself was not available to provide an explanation. But the secretarial offices of several faculties are struggling. ‘It’s an enormous amount of work, which will also cost a lot of money. Everyone is working on it like crazy. The whole secretarial office is down. They won’t have time for anything else the next few weeks’, according to one employee who also asked not to be mentioned by name.


The Amsterdam student wants a lot of information from the exam committee at the RUG, confirms university spokesperson Riepko Buikema. ‘There are several ways to get out of an FOI request, but we’ll have to honour this one. If the information requested is available, you have to supply it’, he says. ‘And I’m sure that that is a lot of work.’

This work consists mainly of going over all the minutes, annual reports and letters dating back to 2005. The exam committees’ records have only been kept digitally for a few years now. In years past, everything was documented in different ways. And because the secretarial offices do not know exactly when the plagiarism cases took place, they have to go through every piece by hand in order to find the information.


The university has to respond to the Amsterdam student’s request within four weeks. This deadline can be extended an additional four weeks. If the RUG does not respond in time, the university will have to pay a fine up to 1,200 euros.