Over 100 students sign petition for unfair lab requirements

By Beatrice Wihlander | January 18, 2021

Over 100 business students from the University of Amsterdam have signed the petition for unfair lab requirements that are making it difficult for them fulfil credit requirements to graduate. 

Cover image by Elisa Morand / The Amsterdammer

On March 12 2020, the Amsterdam Business School Laboratorium closed due to government restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This prevented several business students from the University of Amsterdam completing their research credits, presenting a significant hurdle for students that intend to graduate this year. In order to be eligible to write their thesis in the third year, students need to acquire 10 points by participating in different studies. 

Third-year Business Administration student Rick van den Oord, 22, created the petition to address these issues, “it is making it kind of hard for us to get the lab requirements in the first place.” He explained that he did not pursue any lab credits in the first year to focus on passing all the courses. In his second year, he could earn only two credits before the lab closed. “In the third year, it is basically very difficult to gain credits, and it is very hard now to gain those points to proceed to the next year.” 

Jennifer Haze, 23, a student also in her third year attended an information session in order to plan her final semester and was told that it would be possible to collect the 10 credits before the deadline in April 2021. However, once the laboratory was shut down she signed the petition in hopes of continuing her existing academic plan.

On June 15, there was a new email sent out saying that there would be shorter, online studies available to fulfill the research requirement. It stated that these would be worth one quarter to half a research credit as opposed to the one full credit awarded for physical studies. The booking of a time slot was not required and the studies could be done at any time suitable for the students. 

However, throughout the first semester of the academic year, Jennifer has only seen two such surveys available worth 0.25 credits each. She sent an email on November 26 to the coordinator to raise these issues, but did not receive a reply as of December 3, when she spoke to The Amsterdammer. She was also told in the information session that she could write an essay of 3500 words to potentially compensate for the research credits.

“He said it could be completely possible, but I got a bit scared when the consequences were discussed as writing an assignment of 3500 words while starting my thesis is a big big effort that I don’t want to go into.” 

On December 3, two additional studies were added in the laboratory worth 0.5 credits each. However, these surveys contain sign-up restrictions, making them inaccessible for some students.

“They might be willing to look into it a bit further if enough people would sign the petition, and maybe they would feel more pressured to change something.”

For the students who were writing their bachelor thesis in the spring of 2020, the university offered a different solution in an email sent out on March 25. They explained that although the lab would remain closed until at least June 1, students could receive two free credits per month in both March and April. This means that the students’ requirement for 10 credits was reduced to 6. 

Rick also heard of this solution given to the previous year’s students. “They compensated them in a way that they needed to reach less points than we do, so I believe that could be a possible solution. If they compensated the third-year students from last year, they should compensate the second and first-year students as well.”  

The student petition highlights the promise from the university at the beginning of the lockdown in March, where the university vowed to support the students to avoid study delays. The students, however, feel that they are being asked to be more flexible than the organization. “I feel that they are trying to push the responsibility towards us, calling us lazy because we have not obtained the points in the previous years,” Rick told The Amsterdammer. 

“I feel that they are trying to push the responsibility towards us, calling us lazy because we have not obtained the points in the previous years,”

Many students from the University of Amsterdam believe that their teachers and board members should be a bit more accommodating and helpful towards their students in such challenging times. Whilst everyone is going through a pandemic, university students are still expected to graduate with sufficient credits, which is proving to be more difficult than anticipated. 

The response from the University of Amsterdam will be followed up by The Amsterdammer.

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