Upper House questions more power for students

Education minister Bussemaker wants to give students and employees more power. But the Upper House questions her bill.

After days of discussion and a deluge of amendments, the Lower House members finally agreed: programme committees need a bigger say, ECTS study credits should no longer be declared invalid for no reason, and remaining enrolled without paying tuition fees while serving as a board member should be implemented. But now, the members are being reprimanded by their colleagues in the Upper House.

They feel that the bill presented by minister Jet Bussemaker is severely lacking.

Shelf life for grades

They mainly question the plan to limit the shelf life of ECTS. According to the bill, an exam grade can only expire when the student’s knowledge or skills are ‘demonstrably outdated’. But the VVD wonders what constitutes outdated knowledge, who decides when or if something has become outdated, and whether knowledge from certain programmes become outdated quicker than others.

Additionally, an ECTS credit cannot expire when a student is ill or serves on a board for a year, according to the bill. ‘Surely we can’t let students like that graduate with outdated knowledge?’, the VVD, CDA, and D66 asked the minister.

Tuition-free board positions

The plan to defer tuition for students who serve on a board full-time is also unwelcome. According to the VVD, what board membership is inadequately defined. ‘Wouldn’t this encourage students to worm their way into this favourable scheme?’

And the ChristenUnie (Christian Union) wants to know why the minister is not encouraging talented board members who do manage to combine their education and board work.

Moreover, VVD and SGP are wondering if students and employees should even have more power over university boards and faculty councils. ‘Wouldn’t that give them a one-sided opportunity to take emergency measures? Shouldn’t it be the board that ultimately manages and decides things?’ D66 members wonder if the students even support these bodies anymore, given that almost no one votes for them.

Whether the bill will make it through is not yet clear. Bussemaker will first have to answer all the Upper House’s questions. After that, she will debate them about it.