Binding Study Advice: foreteller of study success! (Part One)

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Binding Study Advice (BSA) is common practice in the Netherlands and comes down to the simple fact that a university student has to obtain a certain percentage of credits of his/her first year modules. If they do not meet that condition, they’re expelled from that specific field of study (and related fields of study) for a certain period (generally 3 to 5 years). Goals of this regulation are:

  • Increasing the study effectiveness of the organization
  • Increasing the quality of education in general
  • Preventing students known to have no perspective on successful outcomes to continue their study after the first year.
  • Being able to offer students more accurate guidance throughout their study

Although this measure is legally anchored, it encountered fierce criticism from several student unions and related parties. They claim the regulation not to be the suited method to improve the quality of education. On the contrary they see it as a serious restriction in the freedom of choice of a student.

Nevertheless the greater part of educational organizations has introduced or is introducing the BSA regulation in their educational program. Other countries may not use terminology like BSA but early watch systems and other initiatives to increase efficiency are common practice.

Since BSA is always adjusted to meet the local regulations and desires, SAP chose not to enclose a BSA solution in Student Lifecycle Management (SLcM). As many educational institutions are momentarily using this regulation, we decided to develop a common, generic and flexible solution for the market, fully integrated within the SLcM software.

The solution consists of three major parts. The first part consists of the admission and registration process. Based upon a complex set of rules, the system can automatically determine if the student falls under the BSA regulation. If so, the student gets a BSA candidature, which implicates that the student has to fulfill certain conditions (achieving a certain number of credits) in his/her first year, before being able to register for a subsequent year of that study (or related field of study).

That brings us to the second part. To see if the student meets the required conditions, an audit can be executed that will compare the results of the student with the conditions required by the relevant field of study. Depending on the period within the academic year, the conditions can be adapted in a flexible way. Throughout the year the student receives intermediate advices, which tell both student and advisor how the student is doing. This permits to set-up an adjusted study plan when needed to make the student succeed in his/her study. Finally, at the end of the year, the student receives a finale advice. This can be a positive one, allowing the student to continue in the field of study or a negative one, preventing the student from continuing because he/she lacks any perspective on a successful outcome. All audit activity is logged in what we call the BSA file of the student, so it is accessible in a very clear and useable format to the study advisor of the student.

The third and final part involves the integration of all needed correspondence into the solution. Every advice can be sent to the student, by means of email or letter, meanwhile keeping track of all exchanged correspondence in a log file. This way, it’s easy for the advisor to keep an eye on the progress of the student, but also on the audits and concerning correspondence that have been exchanged. Correspondence is built up based on several conditional rules, using dynamic data of the student, his/her study and related results.

Now that we’ve learned about the functionality of the BSA within SLcM, let’s take a look at some real-world examples. My next post will examine how our treatment of BSA helped the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam.

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