The Higher Education Appeals Tribunal – in Dutch: CBHO – is an independent tribunal that hears appeals in the field of higher education. The Tribunal is the only and highest possibility for appeal.
Internal legal protection procedure
When you do not agree with a decision from your university or university of applied sciences you first have to go through the internal appeals procedure.
Every educational institution has a legal protection desk or a complaints desk. They can inform you about the internal procedures. You will then go through an objection procedure with the Board of Administration (CvB) or an appeals procedure with the Board of Examiners (CBE).
Appeal procedure with CBHO
If you do not agree with the decision from your educational institution you can lodge an appeal with the CBHO within 6 weeks. The decision you have received will usually inform you about this possibility at the bottom with a legal protection clause.
The procedure is limited to universities and universities of applied sciences that are government financed. Other educational institutions fall outside the jurisdiction of the CBHO.
An overview of the financed institutions can be found in the appendix to the Wet op het Hoger onderwijs en Wetenschappelijk onderzoek (WHW).
Cases may be about:
- Binding negative study advice
- Tuition or examination fee
- Financial support
- Iudicium Abeundi
- (decentralised) selection
- Exams and grades
- Admission to a bachelor, master or advanced degree program
An appeal with the CBHO follows the procedural legislation as this is laid down in the Algemene wet bestuursrecht (Awb). In addition to this the CBHO has some extra regulations. If you follow the followingsteps the procedure will take as short as possible.
How do you lodge an appeal?
You can send your appeal via post, fax or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). In your appeal you must state your name, address, the educational institution and the date the you write the appeal. Include explicitly which decision you appeal, if possibly include a copy, and why you disagree with the decision. Do note that the Tribunal only accepts Word- and pdf- files. Do not forgot to sign your appeal.
The official language of the CBHO is Dutch. Therefore the proceedings will be conducted in Dutch. As an exception we do accept the initial appeal in English. However, it does have our preference to also receive a version in Dutch. You may let someone assist you during the course of the proceedings in order to translate. That person does not have to be an official registered translator but could also be a fellow student. This also applies to the hearing, when it takes place. Alternatively, you may authorise someone to act on your behalf (this includes but is not limited to legal representation).
Preparation and hearing
Before a case can be heard, it will be prepared in writing. This means you will be asked to pay a court fee. The university and university of applied sciences will be asked to hand over the casefile and a written defence against your grounds of appeal. In most cases a hearing will take place after this.
A case will be heard by one or three judges. Both you and the representatives from the educational institutions will be given the opportunity to defend your points of view. Generally hearings will take about 30 minutes.
During a hearing the student is first given the opportunity to emphasise the most important grounds in approximately 5 minutes. The judges will have read all the written documents, so it is not necessary to repeat everything. After this the judges will ask questions. At the end both you and the university will be given the opportunity to make some closing remarks.
After the hearing the judges will decide on the ruling . Once this has been put in writing it will be send out to you and the educational institution. This is a final ruling and there is no possibility to appeal the ruling.
Sometimes it is necessary to obtain a ruling in a short period of time. For example to gain access to lectures or to sit a specific exam. Together with an appeal you can then ask for a 'provisional injunction'. You do have to explain in your request for such an injunction what the urgency is. In cases with regards to such a request a hearing will generally be scheduled within one or two weeks. The ruling will also follow as soon as possible.
It is not obligatory to retain a lawyer. However it is advisable to consult legal representation or have someone represent you.
Lodging an appeal or requesting a provisional injunction costs € 50 per case (tariff for 2022). This is the court fee. If the Tribunal rules in your favour the educational institution will pay you a refund. In case of a favourable ruling this can also mean that they must cover the fees of the lawyer or professional legal representative you retained.