Missed between the lines

‘For English, please scroll down.’ These words head most of the emails that TU Delft’s administration sends to its international students. The key word here is ‘most’.

Typically, when an official email reaches the inbox of anyone with an “” email address, the top portion written in Dutch and the bottom transcribed into English. Sometimes, the letter is only intended for Dutch nationals, and a sentence saying so in English begins the brief. However, emails intended for every student, regardless of his or her foreign-language ability, have been written in only in Dutch. And, as it turns out, those emails can be very important.

On December 6, 2012, Anke Mulder of the Onderwijs & Studentenzaken office (Office of Education and Student Affairs) sent an email to all of TU Delft’s students, notifying them of the official registration and de-registration policies which have financial consequences.

The information was presented exclusively in Dutch, with no instructive header in English. If this was important information, it certainly was not clear to the international population, who comprised around 2800 students in 2011.

The email stated that un-enrolling from the university is only possible through The site is an online portal that automates all of the administrative processes related to student enrollment, from registration in a degree program to electronic tuition payments. Yes, de-registration is possible with a few short clicks of one’s mouse, but it is impossible to de-register retroactively. This point is sensitive to those master’s students who work month after month on their final projects, with graduation dates set in sand. Frequently, a student will not know his or her graduation date until a few weeks beforehand. This time is most often spent feverishly to polish reports and study for the oral defense.

 There is no time is for other matters, especially sifting through Dutch-language emails.

This master’s student would then pay tuition for each subsequent month after defending, until a call is made to the Central Student Administration to find out why it had continued to deduct funds. Despite having completed the degree requirements, that money will not be reimbursed.

While it is true that all international students who have started a second year at TU Delft have registered through Studielink and would therefore be familiar with the tool, it does not mean that they would have heard through the grapevine that this website would also govern the fate of their financial savings. Leaving large sums of money to the forces behind a little website is like cutting a hole in one’s pocket. Pay for classes when not actually taking them? This was not in the footnote.

Tina Amirtha

 (earned her MSc from TU Delft in Biomedical Engineering in October 2012)

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