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5. Complaints Committees

Radboud University has:

Scientific Integrity Committee

Each year, the Scientific Integrity Committee reports on its activities in general terms to the Executive Board. During the 2020 reporting year, the committee received three new complaints via the Executive Board, the same number as in 2019. Two of the submitted complaints were declared unfounded, and one is still being processed.

Student Complaints

In 2020, the Examination Appeals Board received 78 appeals. The Executive Board received 118 objections. The Central Complaint Office received 78 complaints. Six appeals were filed with the Appeals Tribunal for Higher Education.

Appeals to the Examination Appeals Board

Students who disagree with the assessment of preliminary or final examinations by the Examining Board can submit an appeal to the Examination Appeals Board (EAB). Of the 78 appeals received, the EAB ruled in 14 cases. This is similar to 2019 (13 rulings).

The coronavirus has not had a negative effect on the functioning of the EAB. From the first lockdown, appeals have been handled through online hearings. In this way, the applicable coronavirus measures were followed, and the legal protection of students remained intact. Due to the switch to digital processing, the appeals were initially handled by a smaller board. From the summer holidays onwards, the appeals have again been handled by the full board (still online). In 2020, the smaller board delivered seven rulings: one because of the sudden absence of a member, and the other cases because of the coronavirus.

The total number of 78 appeals is slightly higher than the 72 received in 2019. Coronavirus-related issues are partly responsible for this increase. For example, several appeals were received because of digitally created examinations. In contrast, the number of BSA appeals has drastically decreased. This is probably because students who did not meet the BSA norm were granted leniency because of the coronavirus measures.

In 2020, 34 of the 78 (43.5%) appeals received were eventually settled amicably between the parties. In percentage terms, this number is almost the same as in 2019, in which a settlement was reached in 30 of the 72 (42%) appeals received. The fact that a settlement has been reached does not mean that the outcome for the student is always positive. For instance, a settlement could consist of having another lecturer reassess an examination, with the same failing mark as a result.

Progress of the actions qualified as appeals

 

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Appeals

66

83

101

72

78

Settled

34

39

52

30

34

Withdrawn

18

13

34

29

30

Verdict given

13

30

14

13

14

In progress

1

1

1

-

-

Objections to the Executive Board

Students can go to the Executive Board with objections to other written decisions. These objections concern matters such as financial support, admission and selection, scholarships, enrolment, registration and termination of enrolment, and refund of tuition fees. In 2020, 118 objections were received.

Most striking is the increase in the number of objections concerning the selection procedure for programmes with a quota. A total of 46 objections were received in this category in 2020, compared to 28 objections in 2019. This increase is largely explained by adjustments to the selection procedures as a result of the coronavirus measures. The cancellation of one of the selection exams for Dentistry in particular led to an increase in the number of appeals (27 compared to 13). As in 2019, there were many objections concerning admission to Master’s programmes. In this category, an objection is made against the decision that the prior education requirements have not been met. There were fewer objections concerning the non-fulfilment of prior education requirements for Bachelor’s programmes. In addition, the downward trend continued in objections related to the Student Financial Assistance Scheme category. This decrease can be explained by the fact that a number of conditions for financial support for the performance of management activities have been abolished in the Student Financial Assistance Scheme. 

The coronavirus has had little impact on the handling of appeals. However, hearings with the Arbitration Committee have been held online from the first lockdown. The online hearings made it possible to deal with the objections orally, whilst still observing the measures. 

Outcome of the objections submitted

 

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Withdrawn

11

11

14

26

26

Settled

4

2

6

2

3

(Clearly) well founded

29

39

40

19

12

Partially well founded

1

-

-

1

-

(Clearly) unfounded

40

52

68

69

74

Inadmissible

2

8

4

1

3

Total

87

112

132

118

118

Central Complaints Desk

In 2020, 78 complaints were filed through this complaints desk, 12 more than in 2019. The complaints desk can be reached via the university’s website. Most complaints concern the state of affairs regarding examinations (19), for example, about nuisance during an examination or the representativeness of the examination material. Within this category, several complaints were made about the same situation. There were also many complaints in the education category, for example, about the organisation, content or lecturers. In addition, compared to other years, more complaints were filed about matters such as registration, tuition fees and the awarding of the diploma. Many of these complaints were related to the effects of coronavirus measures.

The complaints are subdivided into the following categories: implementation of teaching, examinations, graduation, registration and tuition fees, application for/issue of the diploma, buildings and facilities, information and the provision of information, mistreatment, guidance by the student advisor or student dean, and other complaints. The complaints have generally been dealt with swiftly by the case officer. In most cases, the complaint was settled to the satisfaction of the student. 

The Appeals Tribunal for Higher Education

A student who disagrees with a verdict regarding an objection to the Executive Board or a verdict of the Examination Appeals Board can appeal to the Appeals Tribunal for Higher Education (CBHO) in The Hague. The CBHO gives its verdict on the case in a decision against which no further appeal is possible. The rulings of the CBHO are published anonymously on the website www.cbho.nl.

In 2020, the CBHO received six appeals against verdicts regarding objections to the Executive Board and no appeals against verdicts of the Examination Appeals Board. Five appeals were declared unfounded, and the outcome of one case is still unknown at the time this annual report is published.