I have completed a 120 ECTS Master program in a research university in the Netherlands. However, to get a diploma, I need to make a separate application. I did not apply for the diploma in time before my enrollment ended. The university has a rule that I must be enrolled to apply for the diploma, which means I have to pay for at least one more month of enrollment to make the application.

How legal is this rule? Is it regulated by EU law or Dutch law or is it an arbitrary rule of this university? What laws regulate issuing of diplomas/degree certificates in EU in general?

Also, if I can't get a diploma, how can I at least get some verification of my earned ECTS-credits?

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    It will be regulated by Dutch law. Dutch law may be governed by EU law. Research Universities generally operate inside the law, so it is likely to be legal. You could ask the University how you could get some verification of your credit - if you avoid getting their back up, they will probably try to be helpful. Feb 16 '17 at 11:00
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    From a practical standpoint I suggest not trying to make a legal argument, even if it is illegal (which I doubt, but it could be). Although this is only personal experience, I worked at a Dutch university and from past cases as well as my own when an action was illegal it was insufficient to simply point that out. Your best strategy, in my opinion, is to make a personal case (i.e., you did not know), but even here adherence to their own rules is still likely. Other than that, I'd suggest enrolling for one more month, personally I think not getting your diploma is probably more costly. Feb 16 '17 at 11:57
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    @spiderface: When you say "diploma" do you mean the physical paper? Or do you mean the degree, the recognition that you have completed the program and have the indicated knowledge?
    – sharur
    Feb 16 '17 at 17:17
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    @sharur I mean the degree, not just the paper.
    – spiderface
    Feb 16 '17 at 17:38
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    In that case I also suggest that you contact your masters supervisor. I assume you had to do a research or some other project for your masters? You're likely to meet resistance from the bureaucracy, however, professors etc. want masters students to graduate and are also not particularly keen about the bureaucracy. Try to get one on your side, in my opinion. Feb 17 '17 at 9:37

This question concerns Dutch law. Specifically, the Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek ("WHW") is applicable, as well as further rules seth forth by the Board of your university.

Pursuant to Article 7.10(2) WHW, a degree is completed once all study elements (individual exams) of the degree program are graded/completed, insofar the examencommissie (Examination Board) has not called for an additional investigation into the knowledge, understanding and skills of the candidate. Once a degree is completed, the University Board must grant the candidate the applicable degree pursuant to Article 7.10a WHW (e.g. by declaring that you are now a Master of Science).

Pursuant to Article 7.11(2) WHW, the examencommissie (Examination Board) must grant a diploma after completion of all study elements of the degree and after the University Board has declared that all procedural requirements for grant have been met. From Dutch parliamentiary history (Kamerstukken II 2008/09, 31 821, nr. 3, p. 57-58 (MvT)) (which is an authorative legal source for explaining provisions in Dutch legislation), it is clear that with "procedural requirements", the lawmaker referred to obligations such as the payment of tuition fees. The University Board is allowed to make such procedural rules.

Therefore, the University Board must grant you a degree if you have completed all ECTS, however the Examination Board may not grant the diploma if it deems that procedural requirments (different per university) were not met. It would thus be advisable to find out (via the university website) what these procedural requirements are.

If you request the University Board in writing (ex Article 4:1 and further Algemene wet bestuursrecht ("Awb")) to grant you the degree pursuant to Article 7.10a WHW and to make the declaration pursuant to Article 7.11(2) WHW, the University Board is obliged to make a written formal decision on your request, generally within 8 weeks at the most (ex 4:13(2) Awb). You have the right to appeal this decision before an administrative body.

Please note that amicable setlement with the university is in any case preferable. If that doesn't work however, I would advise you to contact a Dutch lawyer.

  • it's extremely likely that the application for the degree is the procedural trigger that makes the university go and check for eligibility. Without the request, they assume that you have classes open. They most likely can't check classes for non-enrolled students (procedural rule).
    – Trish
    Nov 22 '20 at 14:34

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