New law sanctions 20-euro fine for late exam registration

Every year, some ten thousand students miss the registration deadline for an exam that they still insist on taking. If the Dutch government has its way, educational institutions will soon be able to charge them 20 euros.

In practice, this has been happening for years, but now it has been set out in black and white as part of a regulation (link in Dutch) that the government has published online so that citizens can react to it. Until June 8, anyone can comment on or criticise the planned measures.

Not all higher education institutions impose such fines, which the regulation refers to as ‘contributions’. Some of them register students automatically for the exams related to the courses they are taking. Others prefer students to register themselves for planning purposes, so that they know exactly how many people will show up for the exam.

The alternative to a fine would be preventing students from sitting the exam, which would leave them behind schedule with their studies. The 20-euro fine is therefore seen as a compromise with student associations ISO and LSVb, which opposed such a drastic measure. The corresponding legislation was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives late last year.

Other costs
The new regulation also specifies other student costs: an excursion to Egypt for an Egyptology programme should be at the student’s own expense, for instance. Students will also be expected to pay for the food used in a nutrition lab.

Although programmes are obliged to offer a cost-free alternative when students cannot (or do not want to) pay for excursions or practicals, in cases where this is not possible – such as a trip to Egypt – that obligation will no longer apply.

Sports days
Furthermore, educational institutions will also be permitted to charge for writing or networking workshops beyond the scope of the degree programme itself. Strictly speaking, these workshops are not covered by the tuition fees paid by the students. This also applies to other extras such as coffee and tea, introduction days, guest speakers and sports days, to name but a few.

At the same time, certain payments are capped by the regulation. Charges made by institutions for admission tests, issuing a certificate of good conduct, and giving medical advice for admission to sports programmes may only cover the cost of the service provided. There is a limit on what institutions can charge even for replacing a lost diploma.

International students
International students are also protected by the regulation. Institutions have to assess their qualifications thoroughly in advance in order to determine whether they comply with all the admission requirements. The charge for this procedure has been set at a maximum of 100 euros.

The universities will also not be allowed to charge for things like access to the buildings or taking certain courses. After all, these are aspects covered by students’ tuition fees and government funding.