A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
One of the key words for a Dutch first year is BSA. The term can strike fear into every single first year student – those three little letters hold so much power. Your BSA is your “Binding Study Advice”. It is a decision made by the university about your study progress during first year. It ultimately outlines whether you are fit to study the whole programme and if you will be able to finish it. It is given to first years by the board of examiners of your university at the end of first year. It will either be positive or negative, positive indicating that you are able to continue your studies and negative being contrary to that.
Every university has different requirements for a BSA. A full-time three-year bachelor’s programme at Leiden University generally consists of 180 credits – 60 credits per year. To get your BSA at the end of first year you need to obtain 45 out of those 60 credits by the end of the academic year. For part-time students the requirement is 30 credits. If you meet these requirements you are free to move onto the rest of your university career.
There are several aspects that are taken into account when the board of examiners decide on one’s BSA. They consider the student counselling that a student has received and whether there are any specific issues that have come to light in those sessions. This can shape how they determine your BSA. They further account for an individual’s personal circumstances. When doing this they need to know whether there has been an event in the student’s life that has negatively impacted their ability to study. Should this occur they may be more lenient with their decision.
The board of examiners will issue students who may be at risk of not achieving their BSA with a warning at the end of their first semester. This warning is an indication to you that you need to be cautious with passing your courses going into the next semester. They do this to ensure that you aren’t blindsided by the BSA result should it be negative.
Something to further bear in mind is your right to appeal. Every student has the right to appeal their BSA decision to the board of examiners should you feel the decision was unjustified. This will allow you to bring personal circumstances or other aspects that negatively impacted your ability to study and achieve the BSA requirement.
Although this all sounds very daunting, it is very achievable. So, I will share some small tips that helped me get my positive BSA:
BSA isn’t something to be afraid of. Rather, it is something to just be aware of. If you apply yourself diligently and follow these tips then your BSA will come your way in no time.