BSA more stringent from 1 September

With effect from 1 September 2013 the Binding Study Advice (BSA) at Leiden University will be more stringent for new students starting their bachelor’s. This is part of a new set of measures aimed at achieving higher academic success rates among students.

More credits needed

The new BSA measure means that full-time students have to acquire a minimum of 45 credits (ECTS), instead of 40, within the first year of their bachelor’s programme and they have to complete their first-year programme (the propaedeuse) within two years. Part-time students need to acquire a minimum of 30 credits within the first year and 60 credits within two years, and they have to complete the propaedeuse within three years. The increase in the number of credits required is in line with current legislation.

Academic progress requirement

Leiden University also intends to introduce an ‘academic progress requirement’ for full-time students in their second year. The university has applied to the Ministry of Education for permission to introduce this new measure. The academic progress requirement means that students have to acquire at least 90 credits within the first two years of their bachelor’s. This norm would also apply to students starting their bachelor’s on 1 September 2013, who would be affected by this rule in their second year (2014-2015).

Pending permission

The actual implementation of the academic progress requirement will depend on permission being granted by the Ministry of Education as well as the official Order in Council needed to ratify the proposal. There are a number of exemptions from this requirement: particular programmes that are only offered at Leiden University, such as Chinese Studies and Korean Studies, are excluded, as are part-time students. These students will receive a non-binding study advice instead of a binding study advice.

Not a selection instrument

The academic progress requirement is not intended as a selection instrument. Students have already demonstrated their ability to acquire 45 credit points in their first academic year, so they should in principle be able to do the same in the second year. This extra requirement aims to discourage students from slowing down their pace of study after their first year (which happens regularly at the moment), and so will save them from having to face serious problems later on.

Higher academic success rates

The new BSA system is part of a series of measures to improve education at university level. These new measures call for greater commitment from students; higher demands are also being made of teaching staff and of the study programmes. Students at Leiden University already use the Leiden Study System which provides them with regular study supervision, particularly in their first year. This study supervision includes an introductory meeting, followed by regular participation in mentor or tutor groups in which students can practise their academic skills and discuss their progress. If necessary, students may also be invited to discuss their progress in further detail with their Study Adviser.

More provisions from September 2013

From 1 September 2013 the following provisions will be offered as part of the new plans to improve academic success:

• introduction of a new intake procedure, starting in spring 2014, to help future students choose the right study programme;
• use of a Study Plan starting from the second year of study, so that students and the department can monitor progress;
• further improvement in study supervision throughout the degree programme;
• more intensive study programmes with more contact hours, mid-term tests, and more varied didactic teaching methods, including greater use of IT;
• larger number of extra-curricular Honours Programmes (within the Honours College) available for those students who want and are able to achieve more.


In short: over the coming years Leiden University will be investing in its teaching both financially and in terms of the content of its study programmes. The aim is, through innovation and improvement, to maintain high levels of study progress and to encourage students to get the best out of their studies.

(14 June 2013)

Last Modified: 24-06-2013