Bachelor course youngest student ended

December 9, 2019

University stresses the need for a timetable that suits the 9-year old student.

Photo: Bart van Overbeeke.

Today there was a meeting with the parents of TU/e's youngest student, the 9-year-old Laurent Simons. Laurent’s mentor, the dean of the Electrical Engineering department and the program director spoke with the parents about Laurent's progress in his Electrical Engineering bachelor study. In that conversation, the father repeated his explicit wish that his son should obtain his bachelor degree at the age of 9, which means that Laurent must successfully complete his bachelor within ten months for a study that normally lasts three years. Laurent is an unprecedentedly talented boy, whose pace of study is exceptional. However, the university does not consider this targeted end date feasible in view of the number of examinations that Laurent would have to pass before his tenth birthday, on 26 December.

That is why the university today proposed to the parents to engage in a timetable that suits Laurent and would allow him to complete his study by mid-2020. This would still be, in every way, a phenomenally fast schedule. In our view, this timeline would offer Laurent the opportunity to sufficiently develop the skills associated with the final phase of the study program, such as insight, creativity and critical analysis, without undue pressure on this 9-year old student. We believe that accelerating this timetable is not feasible and would be unfavorable to Laurent's academic development.

The parents have decided not to accept this timetable, and to discontinue Laurent's studies at TU/e. We regret that. We believe that Laurent would benefit from continuity in order to develop his very special talent. As a university, we have provided a great deal of customization to facilitate Laurent's fast study path, something that has required significant investment from teachers and staff who already have to deal with a substantial workload. It is a pity that this customization will not result in a successful completion of the study. We are proud that our staff, and especially Laurent's mentor professor Peter Baltus, have shown such dedication in guiding and helping Laurent. His supervisors enjoyed working with him, not only because of his enormous talent, but also because he is a very kindhearted and inquisitive boy. The door is therefore still open for him to resume the study as long as the conditions remain realistic.

The university would like to emphasize that for Laurent no concessions have been made with regard to the study’s quality requirements. His study path trajectory complies with the Education and Examination Regulations of the Electrical Engineering bachelor program in. Laurent had to pass the same practicals as other students, and he had to take the same courses and the same exams. Laurent Simons was allowed to take exams at different times and to complete practicals more quickly. This required extra effort from many people at TU/e because all examinations and practicals for Laurent had to take place separately. That's not unusual, though. Special students, e.g. students engaged in elite sport, can get a modified schedule from us if there are good reasons for doing so.

It is regrettable that for Laurent the cooperation ends here, and we wish him all the best for the future.