First-year students will need to attain a certain number of credits before they can progress to the second year. So how exactly does the Binding Study Recommendation (BSR) work and what do you need to think about for this coming year?
1. How many credits do I have to get in Year 1?
The first year of your course consists of an educational programme that is worth 60 credits. In an ideal world you would attain all 60 credits by the end of the academic year. However, if you cannot manage to get all 60, you will need to get at least 48 credits (ECTS) to be allowed to continue the study programme. This rule applies to all Bachelor programmes (full-time, part-time and dual-track) and all two-year Associate Degrees (ADs).
Three Rotterdam University study programmes are subject to a different BSR requirement: at Small Business and Retail Management and Commercial Economics at COM you must get all 60 credits in the first year. For the Industrial Product Design (IPO) study programme the requirement is 52.
2. Why is the BSR requirement not the same everywhere in Rotterdam University?
According to the law, colleges of higher education and universities are free to set their own BSR requirement. For a long time, the same requirement was applied to all Rotterdam University study programmes. However, some important educational changes were made at COM and IPO. This necessitated the introduction of a higher BSR requirement, together with a new curriculum, a limit to the number of re-sits, the options to compensate and/or removing competition between subjects, in order to encourage students to view the programme as being now or never. The thinking behind it was that this should lead to a decrease in the drop-out rate.
3. Can I return after my negative BSR or can I start another study programme at Rotterdam University?
The answer to that question is ‘maybe’. You may submit a request once only to the Dean of your school to restart the study programme one year (or later) after you have received a negative BSR. You must be able to convince the Dean why you think you can attain the required level this time. The Dean will then decide. You may of course choose to enroll for a different Bachelor or AD at Rotterdam University.
4. What do you mean, 48 credits. Isn’t it going to be 40?
No! Or at least, we don’t know yet. At the start of this academic year, Education Minister Van Engelshoven dropped a slight bombshell by suggesting she wanted to lower the BSR requirement to 40 credits. In the minister’s opinion, this may be a way to combat the stress many students are suffering. However, the fact that this is the minister’s opinion does not mean that it is going to happen. She requires a majority in the Second Chamber to force colleges of higher education and universities to lower the BSR bar to 40 credits.
5. What if I have not been able to get the credits due to personal circumstances?
According to the law, a college of higher education may expel a student who fails to meet the BSR requirement. However, the situation changes if there have been ‘personal circumstances’ which have prevented you from studying. These could include special family circumstances, pregnancy, illness, disability, membership of a (student) executive committee, high-level sports participation, etc. The college of higher education must ‘take these into account’, according to the law.
It is extremely important that you report such special circumstances to the Student Counsellor (log in on Hint) as soon as possible. The Student Counsellor will require proof of the special circumstances. Once you have provided this, it does not automatically mean that you will not get a negative BSR. The Student Counsellor needs to feel convinced that your failure to attain the required credits is due to the circumstances. In that case, the Student Counsellor may advise the study programme to ‘hold over’ your BSR. The Dean will have the last word, but he or she usually follows the recommendation by the Student Counsellor.
If you do not explain your circumstances until later on in the year, the Student Counsellor will be unable to determine if there is a connection between your circumstances and your failure to attain credits and will therefore not be in a position to issue a recommendation.
6. ‘Holding over a BSR’, what does that mean?
If circumstances have meant that you failed to reach the BSR minimum and the Dean of your school has determined that your BSR should be ‘held over’, it means that you will be assessed for your BSR in your second year. You must attain all 60 credits for the first year, or 48 new credits (52 for IPO). These credits can come from Year 1 or Year 2.
Put your mind to it and draw up a plan how you can achieve this. If you have trouble coming up with a plan, you can discuss with your Study Career Coach, the student affairs department or the Student Counsellor.
7. Is it a smart idea to de-enroll before February if I think I’m heading for a negative BSR?
We of ‘Profiles’ just write articles, we are not your study career coach, so we cannot advise you in this matter. If you de-enroll before 1 February, you will not be given a negative BSR, because BSRs are only issued after February. Some students de-enroll before the 1st of February in order to avoid being given a negative BSR, so that they can re-enroll for the same study programme in the new academic year. NB: This does not mean that you are out of the woods and can simply start again, because you will still have to meet the BSR requirement in the new academic year. You will have to attain all 60 credits for the first year or 48 new credits (from Year 1 and 2) (52 for IPO).
If you are considering this course of action, please discuss your situation with your Study Career Coach, the student affairs department or a Student Counsellor to work out whether this is an appropriate course of action for you.
8. Why should I be careful with elective modules and exemptions as far as the BSR is concerned?
When assessing your performance for BSR purposes, only those credits will be counted which are listed under the first-year curriculum in the Student Handbook. The elective modules are distributed over the first two years of your course, but in principle you could attain all of your elective module credits in the first year. That would be great, but only the number of elective module credits listed in the first-year curriculum for your study programme will count towards your BSR. The other credits will be listed on your SVO (Study Progress Overview) on Osiris, and will count towards your total Bachelor or AD programme, but not for the BSR. Chapter 10 of the Student Handbook for your school (search on Hint for ‘Student Handbook’) gives an overview of your curriculum.
Any credits you have been given for exemptions are also not taken into account for your BSR. The same applies as for the electives: they count towards your total Bachelor or AD programme, but not for the BSR. This is because the university wants to be sure that you are capable of attaining 48 new credits in the first year.
9. What if I disagree with my BSR?
You will have received an official warning before being given your negative BSR. If you are unable to improve your performance sufficiently to avoid a negative BSR, but you disagree, you have a right of appeal. The BSR letter sent to you by your study programme states that you may substantiate your appeal at a hearing. Attend this hearing and prepare your arguments well. If the directorate of your school does not alter the BSR, you may appeal against this decision at the Board of Appeal for the examinations (log in on Hint).