Lowering the bar for BSA

Dijkgraaf wants to relax the BSA requirement to 30 credits in the first year.
Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf in de Tweede Kamer “This significant annual investment alleviates current bottlenecks and provides additional opportunities for research and education,” says Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf. Foto Shutterstock

Minister of Education Robbert Dijkgraaf is in favour of relaxing binding study advice (BSA) to 30 credits in the first academic year. ‘This will give students more time to get used to student life and studying, and more room to make up for any study delays’, he says.

‘The BSA should support students in their development’, the Minister continued. ‘In higher education, the BSA is a marker of study progress. The current BSA sets the bar too high in the first year, leading to unnecessary pressure to perform.’

Second year

In a proposal submitted today, the Minister recommended lowering the BSA to 30 credits in the first year on the condition that students obtain at least 30 credits in the second year as well. ‘At the end of the second academic year, institutions are given the option of terminating the programme for students who have obtained less than 60 credits and referring them to another, more suitable programme instead.’

According to the Minister, this amendment lowers performance pressure among students and gives them more time to get used to higher education.


The LSVb student union is pleased with the proposal. ‘Binding study advice is often used as a means to kick students out of a programme if they don’t perform as desired’, says LSVb president, Joram van Velzen. The union would prefer to see binding study advice scrapped entirely.

The universities are less enthusiastic. Pieter Duisenberg, president of the Universities of the Netherlands, is attempting to prove through graphs and figures that the current BSA guidelines are sufficient. The universities believe that the BSA gives students a clear indication of where they stand academically at an earlier stage. Weaker students benefit from a higher standard as it encourages them to set their sights higher. The higher the bar, the harder they try and the more they benefit in their future studies.

Universities decide

At the moment, educational institutes are allowed to set their own BSA standards for the first year. The WUR has set its BSA at 36 credits by the end of the first year, but recommends obtaining at least 50 credits in order to safeguard academic progress.

Dijkstra’s proposal has been submitted to the House of Representatives and, if passed, will be introduced in the 2025-2026 academic year.

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