By Levin Stamm
What had already been revealed by The Herring in January of this year, is now definitely cut and dried: The letter grade system – inspired by universities in the United States and ranging from A to F – will soon be a relic of the past. Numbers from 1 to 10, as common in the Dutch school system, will adorn the transcripts of AUC students starting from the academic year 2022-2023.
The student body was informed about the final decision of the extended management team (EMT) through Marcus Smit, AUC’s team leader of the Services and Communications support staff, in the end of May via Canvas. While the message gave a detailed overview of what the change in grading system specifically means for the GPA calculations of the affected students, it elaborated little on the motivations behind the EMT’s decision.
To make up for this, AUC’s Director of Education Dr. Michiel van Drunen answered questions of a dozen interested students, mostly from the current and future student council, in the AB’s common room on Wednesday, 15 June.
The main reason for the change according to van Drunen: When students receive a percentage grade on the upper side of the grade boundaries, their GPA is currently disproportionately affected.
For instance, a student with a weighted average score of 77 percent currently receives a B+ which translates into a 3.3 grade point. In contrast, an average score of 78 percent results in a 3.7, corresponding to an increase in GPA of 12 percent – an exasperating matter for both students and lecturers: “Students who had just missed the next higher grade boundary would ask me to round up. Of course I denied their request, but I did so with a heavy heart,” van Drunen says.
Another issue mentioned by van Drunen: Until today, there exists no generally accepted conversion table between letter grades and the Dutch point system – inconsistencies in converting grades from universities abroad and off-campus courses were the consequence, sometimes leading to appeals by students to the Examination Appeals Board of the VU. “In some cases, those appeals were approved,” van Drunen says.
Why did AUC have the letter system since it took up operation in 2009 in the first place? Van Drunen, who has been employed at AUC since 2013, names the need to distinguish itself from other university colleges and universities at the time as one of the possible reasons. “The letter grades also helped to underline AUC’s international outlook,” van Drunen adds.
The Dutch grading system will be implemented at AUC starting from 1 September 2022. For current students continuing their studies next year, there will be a transition phase during which both letter grades and numerical grades will be listed on their grade list. Their new numerical grades will be converted into the current GPA scale ranging from 1 to 4. The criteria for distinction will also remain the same for students who started at AUC during the 2021-2022 academic year or earlier.