Information on BSA at EUR

Foto van Nuffic, voor gebruik door M&C

Dear students,

In recent weeks there has been a lot of attention for the binding study advice (BSA). Erasmus University introduced the BSA in 2012, and has done a lot of research into its operation and outcomes. This shows that our BSA has a demonstrably positive effect on students. We would like to use this message to inform you about the operation of the BSA and the opportunities available to you at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR).

"Nominal is normal"

Since 2012, the EUR has introduced various measures to promote educational quality and student success. The BSA and the level of the BSA standard are part of a coherent education system aimed at enabling students to obtain their Bachelor's degree within a reasonable period of time.

Other components are compensation possibilities between parts of the study, the tutoring in the first year, the design of the education and the way examination boards deal with personal circumstances and doubtful cases. The EUR has opted for a high BSA standard of 60[1] credits, hence "nominal=normal". This standard is combined with intensive tutoring and compensation possibilities.

Compensation possibilities

In the case of the EUR, compensation for failed examinations is possible within certain limits. These conditions differ per programme (and can be found in the Education and Examination Regulations per programme). This makes the BSA comparable with other Dutch institutions for Higher Education in terms of the credits to be obtained in the first year of study.

The Higher Education Appeals Tribunal (CBHO) concluded in 2018 that the BSA standard of the EUR is high in itself, but that it has been carefully considered and that there are sufficient opportunities to obtain the credits.

Positive effects

The introduction of the BSA standard has been researched in detail within the EUR.[2] In any case, its introduction has led to a substantially higher percentage of students completing the propaedeutic year. The introduction of the BSA standard has, in any case, resulted in a substantially higher percentage of students graduating from the propaedeutic phase in one year. And that there is no difference in success between student groups. However, drop-out occurs earlier, namely in the first year instead of later years. In the end, this is a good thing for students: it is better to quit your studies early rather than late.

In addition, the increase in positive study advice is greatest among students who perform less well. The model chosen seems to be in favour of precisely those students. The positive effects of the BSA standard have an impact in later years: the number of students who are able to complete a bachelor's programme in three years has increased considerably. The standard has also led to higher grades in medicine (intake of EC). One of the reasons for this is that students are more present at lessons and study in a disciplined way.

Student welfare

The BSA standard means that students are expected to achieve maximum performance in the first academic year. We also expect this from ourselves as a university: our educational system makes it possible for a large number of students to complete the programme successfully. We realise that performance also involves pressure. At the same time, we know that the introduction of the BSA will have particularly beneficial effects for students. Certainly at a time of high study costs, it is also in the interest of students themselves that an appropriate choice of study is made and that there is no delay during the study, or worse: the study must be discontinued.

Coulance (measures)

The first Covid-19 wave did have an impact on education and testing during the past academic year. That is why coulance measures were implemented nationwide at that time, which also related to the BSA. This year, we were well prepared for possible restrictive measures and the EUR is able to offer education in full. Therefore, we do not expect any study delay as a result of the current situation.

It has been agreed with the other Dutch universities that no coulance measures are needed at the moment. If necessary, it may be decided at programme level to take specific course measures. If there is reason to do so, we will do so before 1 February 2021. For individual students who are disproportionately disadvantaged by the current situation, it is already possible to make use of the so-called hardship clause within the existing regulations.

Last but not least...

We are proud of what we have achieved within the EUR in recent years in terms of study and student success. This would not have been possible without the commitment of lecturers, tutors, participation council, examination committees and, last but not least, of you, our students.

We remain committed to providing the best possible education at our university, even under the current challenging circumstances.

Kind regards, 

The Executive Board

Erasmus University Rotterdam


[1] The standard for the Geneeskunde programme is currently 46 EC

[2] Bindend Studieadvies (BSA): Paardenmiddel of sluitstuk van kwaliteitszorg?