Talking point: actions have consequences

As a student in this day and age, the great debate is that of langstudeerders (literally ‘long-studiers’, in English). For anyone lucky enough to have missed the debate thus far, it is basically one of the ways the Dutch government is planning to shore up its finances – by fining all students who take longer to complete their studies than the allotted amount of time.

While there are many sides to the debate, it all boils down to this: they set a deadline and if you do not meet it, there are consequences. 

There are all sorts of deadlines in life. Catching a flight. A doctor’s appointment. Handing in an assignment on time…. Oh wait, here at the TU Delft, that last one doesn’t always apply. No, what happens too often is that while half the class spends sleepless nights trying to make sure the assignment is done before the deadline, the other half will simply ignore the deadline, take their time, and hand it in at their leisure. Is that really fair? Most people would say no. But apparently fair is not something all professors care about, because in most cases, there are no consequences for handing in late work. No points deducted, no refusal to take the work…nothing.

On the other hand, maybe that’s because they know what it feels like. While you may have been a little preoccupied with other matters, anyone who took an exam recently may have noticed this statement on their answer sheets: ‘The education and examination regulations stipulate that examination results will be made known within 20 working days’. Yes, approximately one month from the day you took it, you should be able to know whether all your hard work actually paid off. Admittedly, the anxious wait for the results can make it seem like time is moving at a snail’s pace, making one month feel like three. Even so, my experience has been that the amount of times this rule is actually followed is an exception, rather than the norm. Which then begs the question, what is the point in having a regulation which is hardly ever followed? When it takes seven weeks for exam results to be made known (by which time you’ve already forgotten about ever taking the exam) – why aren’t there any consequences for those involved for not meeting the regulations?

In this day and age, when the government has quite explicitly stated what will happen to students who do not meet their guidelines, wouldn’t it be nice if this was applied consistently at the TU? Wouldn’t a clear and concise description on the consequences of failing to meet a deadline result in improved performance on the part of both staff and students? It may even lead to a repeat of the momentous occasion when examination results were published within one week of taking the exam! But more importantly, perhaps students will learn that deadlines do actually mean something when the staff and administration adhere to them.

Do you agree or disagree with the points raised in this week’s Talking Point? Let us hear your opinion: start or join the discussion in the Comments section.

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