By Nina Hees
— An AUC Student Council Facebook post on April 20 about alterations to the Academic Standards and Procedures (AS&Ps), effective in the 2018/19 academic year, raised concerns among the student body. Adele Beinaraviciute, a second-year Social Science major and co-chair of the Student Council, and Thijs Etty, chair of the Board of Studies (BoS), answer these concerns. It appears that there is nothing to worry about, according to the BoS and Student Council representatives, as they confirm that current students have the right to opt for previous graduation requirements.
The post introduced the preliminary and most major changes proposed to the AS&Ps, which have since been confirmed and uploaded onto Blackboard under ‘AUC Student Information’. According to Etty these have not yet been adopted and are expected to be finalized by the end of June, and applicable as of 1 September 2018.
The proposed alterations include eliminating discrepancies between the majors. Everybody will have to take two methods courses, two consecutive level language courses, a 100-level theme course within their major, and at least 10 disciplinary courses within their major with three of these being 300-level. Further, big questions courses will no longer be able to count for both a disciplinary course and big questions requirement simultaneously.
Current students raised questions in the posts comments concerning inconveniences to individual study plans, as they had not planned for these changes.
Beinaraviciute said that with a Facebook post the changes may have come somewhat surprisingly and suddenly, especially since they are more substantial than previous years, but the changes are made annually across faculties and universities.
According to Beinaraviciute, discussions were initiated at the start of the academic year and are still going on. These discussions, according to Etty, form part of the curriculum reflection process, ‘Curriculum 21’, which helps inform the changes in the AS&Ps.
Joshua van der Kroft, an AUC alumnus currently completing his Master of Law at the UvA, was concerned on the legality of the changes. “It’s illegal in the NL to retroactively change a contract”, he said. According to van der Kroft the old rules should automatically apply and unless the new rules are favorable to all students, they will not apply until all current students deregister from AUC.
Etty said that “rules must be able to be changed, some rules are phased in and thus others phased out.” He added that the changes are not to disadvantage, but “to improve the short and long-term benefit of the students, and AUC as a whole.” The BoS tries to improve the AUC academic system to respond to the needs of the students and lecturers, while ensuring the quality of the degree.
“The people involved are really knowledgeable professionals”, said Beinaraviciute. According to Etty they include the Student Council, the Management Team, the BoS, and the Board of Examiners (BoE) in an advisory role.
The main function of the BoS, which includes four faculty and four student members, is to make and review the AS&Ps, while the BoE enforces them. “An important source for the BoS are the course evaluations”, said Etty, and that is why students are encouraged to complete them.
Beinaraviciute said that there need be no concerns because if a student started AUC under a different set of graduation requirements, regardless of the year of enrolment, they have the right to notify the Board of Examiners (BoE) to apply these rules through the online service desk. The online service desk will be updated accordingly, said Etty.
“Students can be assured that in principal the BoE will grant all such requests”, said Etty, “but students should consult with their tutors before opting out of the new rules”, so that planned curriculums can be accounted for. If no notification is provided to the BoE, the new rules will apply by default.
This is only possible for current students. For those starting in 2018/19 there will not be any flexibility according to Beinaraviciute. This means that new students coming in will invariably be assessed by the new regulations, unless the graduation requirements are changed again in the following AS&P’s, then they’ll too have a choice.
“There’s really nothing to worry about”, said Beinaraviciute, because you can always appeal to be assessed based on the old rules. “[Those involved] have made every attempt to make changes in benefit for the students and allowed the opt out for a safety net”, said Etty.
Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.