By Vincent Noteboom
—Amsterdam University College (AUC) graduates of 2017, and graduates from previous years, have in large numbers complained about their diplomas following a post on one of AUC’s Facebook groups.
Felix Beer, a 2017 graduate who created the post, explained that he had no intention to stir up a conflict between AUC and its students. Beer wanted to share his experience and hear about the experience of others regarding the diplomas.
Many graduating students were upset when they were told that the diplomas would be made available on September 11. The late pick-up date meant that those students who did not live in the Netherlands, or even Europe, would have to travel back from their respective countries just to receive their diplomas.
When Molly Fitz, an AUC alumnus, went to pick up her diploma it was missing the fact that she earned distinction for her capstone. “They said they would fix the summa part, but I had to ask the people of capstone about the thesis of distinction. I asked them, but nobody responded to any of my emails,” said Fitz.
Another graduate, Dasha Ivanenko, travelled from Moscow to Amsterdam with the intention to pick up her diploma but had to return empty-handed. “I was told that I should stay for a week or two longer so they can prepare it for me – at the end, they told me it’s my fault I still don’t have my diploma,” says Ivanenko.
According to Iz Cirkovic, an Alumnus who graduated in 2016, problems with the diplomas are a recurring issue. Cirkovic explained that she was emailed to pick up her diploma on August 28, leaving her with only a couple of days to hand it in with her application for a master program. However, her diploma was not done and available on that date. “Luckily, I emailed them, and they mailed to my master’s program that I had graduated,” said Cirkovic. One month later Cirkovic was informed that her diploma was ready. However, she was only given the option to pick up the document on two days of the week within a two-hour time slot. “But when I came to pick up my diploma, they told me they did not have my diploma ready. I tried talking to the front desk to tell them that this was not okay they responded with ‘we have a lot of work we are very busy.’ Sometimes, later a friend of mine was finally capable of picking it up,” said Cirkovic.
Matilde Marchesi encountered a similar problem when her Community Project (CP) grade was missing on her diploma. She emailed the CP team several times to no avail. She then requested documents to provide to her master program’s university. “They replied mid-august, saying that they couldn’t provide it to me because of a missing grade and dismissed me like that,” said Marchesi. After many phone calls, she was eventually able to pick up her diploma. “I managed to get them someone else to correct the CP, and I went and picked up the documents,” said Marchesi. She needed her diploma a day before the deadline, but only received it three weeks after, and it was still incomplete. “They said they said they would let me know, but they haven’t yet. It’s been another three weeks,” said Marchesi.
The service desk was asked to comment on the situation but has refrained from doing so.
Murray Pratt, AUC’s Dean, explained that the accuracy and efficiency of the graduation process are important to the AUC staff involved. According to Pratt, the complexity of the program makes the assembly of the needed information a slow process. “Sometimes queries arise in the process, and these need fully considered,” said Pratt. He said that despite the fact diplomas could only truly be inspected and assembled after the last intensive period, AUC aims to provide diploma supplements as early as possible. “We have reviewed the process for the class of 2017 and agree that we need to reduce the scope for errors in the system and achieve better efficiency in meeting targets,” said Pratt. “It is a matter of regret that some graduating students have been inconvenienced, and we are committed to addressing any outstanding issues as a priority,” Apologized Pratt. “For the current year, we are aiming to complete a significant part of the graduate checking earlier in the cycle, which should help clear up a lot of the complex queries earlier,” he said. “We are also reviewing the guidance for those completing the checking process to ensure it is as comprehensive and up to date as possible, and that deadlines are established and met,” said Pratt. He added that these improvements would also be discussed with the Student Council.
Those who have experienced problems with their diploma are certain that the system needs to be changed and Pratt indicates that AUC is ready to make these changes. 2018’s graduation will show whether the issues have been resolved.