Legal Protection

As a student, you have rights and obligations. Students can enforce their rights via objection and appeal procedures. This chapter describes how and with whom students can lodge an objection or appeal. There is also the option of lodging complaints.

7.1 The facility

With the coming into force of the Administrative Reinforcement Act (Wet Versterking Besturing) on September 1st, 2010, the university is obliged to establish a single facility for students with disputes and complaints. This facility has been set up under the ESA. Students can submit disputes and complaints online, in writing or at the ESA reception desk. Disputes can be divided into appeals and objections. The facility decides what constitutes a complaint, an appeal or an objection.  

The facility ensures that the date of receipt is noted on the complaint or dispute, which is then passed on for further processing. It sends the student a confirmation of receipt. If a dispute or complaint is sent directly to a body of the university, the body concerned first sends the document to the facility for registration before it starts dealing with it. If the facility sends a dispute or complaint to an unauthorized body, the body concerned will return the document to the facility as soon as possible.

Appeals are processed by the Examination Appeals Board (College van Beroep voor de Examens, CBE). In the case of objections, the Disputes Advisory Committee (geschillencommissie GAC) offers advice to the body that made the decision. This is usually the CVB or the Department Board. Disputes must be submitted to the department within six weeks of the date on which the decision was made.

Complaints can be registered at the ESA. Verbal complaints are processed after the student (perhaps with the help of a student advisor or academic advisor) has filled in and submitted the digital form. The ESA official charged with dealing with complaints passes the complaint on to the department or service where the person referred to in the complaint works. The complaints official monitors the progress of the complaint.

Determining whether a complaint or dispute has been submitted time depends on the moment at which the complaint or dispute is received by the department. The facility draws up an annual report describing the way in which complaints and disputes have been dealt with.

Below, the procedure is described for dealing with disputes and complaints after ESA has passed the dispute or complaint on to the body or official responsible for processing it. In this chapter, ‘students’ includes ‘external students’.

7.2 Disputes

As already stated, disputes can be divided into appeals and objections. Appeals are dealt with by CBE and objections are dealt with by the competent body, which is advised by the GAC.   

7.2.1 Appeals

If a student does not agree with an individual decision, he can lodge an appeal with the relevant facility, against:

  • decisions by Examination Committees and examiners;
  • a negative binding study advice;
  • decisions concerning admission to examinations, e.g. a decision by a entrance examination committee;
  • decisions regarding the number of obtained credits, in connection with study progress and performance grants;
  • committee decisions regarding the evaluation of suitability for the study and command of the Dutch language;
  • decisions relating to admission to the supplementary investigation;
  • decisions relating to exemptions;
  • decisions relating to access to one or more specializations, if the nature and content of the various specializations within the program differ such that exercise of this authority is justified.

In addition, appeals can be made:

  • against a written refusal to take a decision;
  • if a decision is not taken within the specified period.

The facility passes the appeal on to the CBE as soon as possible for further processing. Students can appeal against a decision by the CBE with the Higher Education Appeals Tribunal (College van Beroep voor het Hoger Onderwijs, CBHO). The CBHO is a national board located in The Hague.

7.2.2 Procedures of the Examination Appeals Board

Appeal
The CBE deals with appeals. An appeal procedure can be instigated by submitting a written appeal to the STU facility within six weeks of the decision being made known in the prescribed manner. This period can only be deviated from if the person involved can prove that it was not reasonably possible to submit the appeal earlier. A person lodging an appeal is called the “appellant”. No legal charges are imposed for submitting a written appeal. The written appeal must be signed and must contain, at least:

  • the name and address of the appellant;
  • the date;
  • a description of the decision against which the appeal is being made;
  • the grounds of the appeal.

If the written appeal does not meet these requirements, it is not admissible.

Amicable settlement

Before dealing with the appeal, the CBE will send the written appeal to the body (usually the Examination Committee) that made the decision or refused to do so. This body must consult with the student to see whether it is possible to reach an amicable settlement. This must occur within three weeks of receipt of the appeal by the facility. If the appeal is against the decision of an examiner who is a member of the Examination Committee, this examiner must not take part in the deliberation of whether an amicable settlement is an option.

The CBE will be notified of the outcome of the deliberation within three weeks. If a settlement cannot be reached, the written appeal will be dealt with and the body concerned will be asked to submit a written defense. The written defense is a response to the student’s appeal.

Further treatment

The hearing

Before the CBE decides on the appeal, it will give the parties the opportunity to be heard. The hearings will in principle be open to the public.

During the hearing, both parties will be given the opportunity to elaborate on their points of view. Each of the parties may be represented by an authorized person or legal counsel. This could be a lawyer, but also, for example, a family member. In addition, the parties can call witnesses and experts.

The parties can submit documents up to ten days before the hearing. All documents which apply to the written appeal will be available for viewing at the CBE secretariat at least a week before the hearing. If there are good reasons for maintaining confidentiality, the CBE can decide not to permit the documents to be viewed.

Simplified procedure

When dealing with the written appeal, the CBE may decide not to hold a hearing if:

  • the appeal is clearly non-admissible;
  • the appeal is clearly unfounded;
  • the parties declare that they wish to waive the right to be heard.

Temporary judgment

In urgent cases, the student can request a temporary judgment from the CBE chairman, pending judgment in the main case. This request must be submitted in writing, giving reasons. There must be directly provable evidence of the need for a rapid judgment. The chairman will make a decision after the body or examiner concerned has been heard, or at least summoned.

The judgment

The CBE will decide within ten weeks, calculated from the day after which the deadline for submitting the written appeal expires. The judgment can take the following forms:

  • The CBE may rule that the appeal is legitimate: the decision will be totally or partly quashed. The CBE may rule that a decision be made again, or in the case of a refusal to make a decision, that the decision must be made, or that the interim or final examination, supplementary investigation or admission investigation, or any part thereof, be conducted again. All of this must occur within a period set by the CBE and under conditions to be determined by the CBE;
  • the CBE may rule that the appeal is unfounded: the decision stands, or the refusal to make a decision is considered correct;
  • the appeal can be made inadmissible, which means that the appeal will not be considered: the CBE does not assess the content of the appeal, for example, because time limits have been exceeded.

The judgment will be sent to all parties. Further appeal against the CBE’s judgments must be submitted to the CBHO (Higher Education Appeals Tribunal) within six weeks. For more on the CBHO see paragraph 7.3.

7.2.3 Objections

If a student does not agree with a decision regarding him taken by a body of TU/e, he can report this to the STU facility, digitally or in writing. The facility is responsible for ensuring that the objection is passed on to the body that made the decision as quickly as possible. The body is obliged to ask the Disputes Advisory Committee (GAC) for advice on how to deal with the objection. The objection will then lead to a review of the decision. This is known as the ‘decision on objection’ (‘beslissing op bezwaar’).

If the student is still not in agreement with the decision of the Executive Board after reconsideration, he can submit an appeal to the CBHO. The decision on objection states that an appeal can be lodged at the CBHO within six weeks. For more on the CBHO see paragraph 7.3.

7.2.4 Written objection procedure

Written objection

Objections can be submitted in writing to the STU facility within six weeks of the decision being made known in the prescribed manner. No legal charges are imposed for submitting a written objection.  The written objection must meet the same requirements as a written appeal. See also paragraph 7.2.2.1. of this chapter.

Amicable settlement

The GAC will investigate whether an amicable settlement between the parties is possible. This can take place before or during the hearing.

Immediate haste

In cases of immediate haste, the chairman of the GAC may on request specify that the committee will issue its advice to the Executive Board/Department Board as soon as possible. The chairman will decide within one week of receiving the objection whether it is a case of immediate haste and inform the person concerned and the board of the institute as soon as possible. The board will take a decision within four weeks of the objection being received by the facility.

Treatment of a written objection

The hearing

Before the governing body makes a decision, it will give the parties the opportunity to be heard. The GAC will conduct the hearing. During the hearing, both parties will be given the opportunity to elaborate on their points of view. Each of the parties may be represented by an authorized person or legal counsel. In addition, the parties may call witnesses and experts.
The parties can submit documents up to ten days before the hearing. All documents which apply to the written objection will be available for viewing at least a week before the hearing. If there are good reasons for maintaining confidentiality it may be decided not to permit the documents to be viewed.

Simplified procedure

During the treatment of the written objection, it may be decided not to hold a hearing if:

  • the objection is clearly non-admissible;
  • the objection is clearly unfounded;
  • the parties declare that they wish to waive the right to be heard.

The decision on the written objection

The competent governing body will decide within ten weeks of receiving the written objection.
If the objection is admissible, the disputed decision will be reviewed. If the results of the review make this necessary, the governing body will cancel the decision and, if necessary, make a new decision.

The decision will be sent to all parties. Appeal against the governing body’s decision can be submitted to the CBHO. The appeal procedure is described in detail below in section 7.3.

7.3 The Higher Education Appeals Tribunal

The Higher Education Appeals Tribunal (CBHO) is a national board located in The Hague. Students can lodge appeals with the CBHO against decisions by or on behalf of the CvB relating to decisions taken by bodies of TU/e concerning them on the basis of the WHW and the regulations based on it.

Issues that may be the subject of an appeal include:

  • a negative recommendation on the continuation of studies;
  • decisions relating to enrollment and intermediate termination of enrollment;
  • payment, exemption, reduction or reimbursement of tuition fees;
  • financial support on the basis of the Tu/e Students’ financial support regulations  (profileringsfonds);
  • measures to restrict access to the university premises and grounds.

Further appeal can also be lodged:

  • against a written refusal to take a decision;
  • if a decision is not taken within the specified period.

Before a student can lodge an appeal with the CBHO, he must have submitted a dispute to the ESA facility.

7.4 Procedures of the Higher Education Appeals Tribunal

7.4.1 Written appeal

A student who does not agree with the judgment of a governing body on a written objection against one of the decisions referred to in paragraph 7.1.1.b of this chapter may appeal to the CBHO. He does so by submitting a written appeal within six weeks of the judgment being made known by the governing body. This charge for an appeal is €46 (in 2017).

Treatment of a written appeal

The preliminary investigation

 

A copy of the written appeal will be sent to the governing body which has taken the disputed decision. The governing body must send all documents regarding the case to the CBHO within four weeks; it is also given the opportunity to submit a written defense.

 

The CBHO can give the person submitting the written appeal the opportunity to respond in writing (i.e. to reply to the written defense). In that case, the governing body will be given the opportunity to respond in turn in writing (i.e. to answer the reply). The CBHO specifies terms within which the responses must be submitted.

 

The CBHO can summon the parties to appear, in person or through an authorized representative. The tribunal can request the parties and others to provide written information, which must be submitted within a time limit set by the CBHO. The CBHO can call witnesses, appoint experts and interpreters, and conduct an on-the-spot investigation.

 

If the case is urgent, the CBHO may rule that the case be treated more rapidly.

 

The CBHO can close the investigation if it is not necessary to proceed with it for the following reasons:

  • the tribunal is clearly not authorized to deal with the appeal;
  • the appeal is clearly inadmissible;
  • the appeal is clearly unfounded;
  • the appeal is clearly legitimate.

Objections can be made against such judgments.

The investigation during the hearing

After the preliminary investigation, parties will be invited at least three weeks in advance to appear at a CBHO hearing, at a time and place specified in the invitation. During the session, all parties will be given the opportunity to elaborate on their points of view and to answer questions from the tribunal. Each of the parties may use representatives. They may also call witnesses and experts, provided they notify the tribunal and the other party at least one week before the hearing. In principle, the hearing is open to the public. Parties can submit further documents until ten days before the hearing.

The judgment

The CBHO will pass written judgment within twelve weeks of the termination of the investigation. The tribunal can also pass oral judgment during the hearing, immediately after the termination of the investigation. The judgment of the CBHO can take the following forms:

  • the decision in question will be totally or partially quashed. The CBHO can also specify the consequences of the cancellation. The defendant will have to make a new decision taking into account the tribunal’s judgment. In some cases, the decision will set a new time period;
  • the appeal is unfounded: the disputed decision stands;
  • the appeal is inadmissible, which also means that the appeal is rejected: the CBHO does not assess the content;
  • the CBHO is not authorized to deal with the appeal.

The judgment is sent to all parties. No appeals are possible against judgments by the CBHO.

The temporary provision

In urgent cases, the appellant can request a temporary provision from the CBHO, pending judgment in the main case. This request must be submitted in writing, giving reasons.

7.5 Complaints

Students can submit complaints about the actions or behavior of the university or of persons falling under its responsibility. It is not possible to submit an objection or appeal against these actions. General complaints about policy or teaching or about how these are implemented will not be considered.

As of September 1st, 2010, a complaints official has been appointed at the ESA. This official is responsible for passing on complaints and monitoring their progress. He ensures that the complaint is passed on to the appropriate body that is responsible for dealing with it. He also monitors progress to ensure that the complaint is dealt with within six weeks. There is no collective right of complaint.

7.5.1 Complaint regulation for psychosocial work pressure at TU/e

In this complaint regulation, which is part of the Code of Conduct regarding psychosocial work pressure (i.e. inappropriate behavior and work pressure) established by the CvB (see also Chapter 8, section 8.1 of this statute), the TU/e has determined a uniform procedure for processing complaints about sexual and non-sexual harassment, aggression and violence, bullying, discrimination and excessive work pressure. Students who are confronted with inappropriate behavior can report it to a confidential advisor or lodge a complaint with the complaints committee on psychosocial work pressure. The advisor acts as a contact for students who experience sexual or non-sexual harassment, aggression, violence, bullying, discrimination or excessive work pressure; his or her tasks include assisting these students, providing aftercare, or giving advice on possible procedures. The complaints committee for psychosocial work pressure is responsible for investigating the complaints it receives and submitting a written report to the CvB (or the responsible administrator), along with advice on appropriate measures or sanctions. During the treatment of complaints about undesirable conduct, the privacy of the persons involved will naturally be protected.

7.5.2 Processing a complaint

A student can submit a complaint within one year of the actions or behavior taking place. The complaint has to be submitted to the ESA facility. The complaints official will supervise and monitor further treatment of the complaint. Complaints will not be considered if a complaint has already been submitted and dealt with, or if it was possible for the student to submit an objection or appeal. If the complaint is part of a criminal process, the complaint will not be taken into consideration either. If the interest of the student concerned or the seriousness of the behavior is clearly not sufficient, the governing body does not have to consider the complaint.

Complaints are dealt with as described in the table below.

 

The complaint relates to actions and behavior of the following governing bodies:Dealt with by:
Department/Bachelor's programProgram director Bachelor's program
Department/graduate programGraduate program director
Service departmentDirector of service department

Bachelor's program director

Graduate program director

Dean of the department
Director of the service departmentSecretary of the university

Complaints are dealt with in accordance with chapter 9 of the AWB.

The main rule is that a complaint is dealt with by a person who is not involved in any way with the behavior about which the complaint has been submitted. The person or body who is the subject of the complaint will receive the complaint and any subsequent documents relating to it. The person submitting the complaint will be given the opportunity to be heard. A report will be made of this hearing. This is only unnecessary if the complaint is clearly unfounded or if the complainant does not wish to be heard. The complaint must be dealt with within six weeks; this term can be extended by four weeks.

7.5.3 The preliminary procedure

Before submitting a formal complaint, it is advisable for the student concerned to contact the person to whom the complaint relates, or to contact the person who, given his position, seems to be the most appropriate. This can help to ensure that a complaint is taken seriously and may be solved before resorting to the formal procedure.

7.5.4 National Ombudsman

Students with complaints about the conduct of governing bodies or a TU/e employee can lodge their complaint with the National Ombudsman in The Hague. The incident that the complaint relates to must not have occurred more than one year previously.

Before a complaint can be treated by the National Ombudsman, the student must first contact the body to which the complaint applies. If the TU/e has established a complaint regulation (e.g. the sexual intimidation regulation), this procedure must be carried out first.

Not all complaints are treated by the National Ombudsman. For example, matters that can or could have been submitted to the CBE or the CBHO will not be dealt with by the National Ombudsman.

A complaint that is dealt with may lead to an investigation, which concludes with a written report in which recommendations can be made. The TU/e is not obliged to act on these recommendations.

Further information on legal protection

Legislation and regulations:  

  • Chapter 7, title 4 of the WHW
  • Chapter 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the AWB

For more information:   

  • CBE: mr. A.D. van Eggelen, CBE secretary, tel. +31 (0)40 - 247 22 11
  • GAC (Disputes Advisory Committee): mr. A.D. van Eggelen, tel. +31 (040 - 247 2211
  • complaints from students on the basis of the Code of Conduct for psychosocial work pressure or complaints about sexual and non-sexual harassment, aggression, violence, discrimination and excessive work pressure: confidential advisors:
    Ms M.M. van den Bosch-Doreleijers, +31 (0)40 -247 34 75
    Drs. J.M. Beenhakker +31 (0)40 - 247 4535

  • National Ombudsman complaints procedure: tel. +31 (0)70 - 356 35 63

Further information on the procedures of the CBE and the CBHO

Legislation:   

  • Chapter 7, title 4 of the WHW    

For more information:  

  • general: Legal Affairs, phone no. +31 (0)40 - 247 22 11
  • CBE procedure: mr. A.D. van Eggelen, CBE secretary, phone no. +31 (0)40 - 247 22 11
  • Written objection procedures: mr. A.D. van Eggelen, phone no. +31 (0)40 - 247 22 11
  • CBHO procedure: CBHO secretariat, phone no. +31 (0)70 - 381 30 44
  • individual students’ right of complaint: STU complaints officer, phone no. +31 (0)40 -247 47 47

In addition, for information on several aspects of legal protection and for regular legal aid, please contact: