Educators critical of website advising students to challenge results

Summary

A new website run by a legal firm is advising secondary school and higher education students on their chances of successfully challenging their final results, which the education sector calls a stunt

‘A legal market’

The Flemish education sector is concerned about the launch of the website studiebetwisting.be, which advises students on their chances of successfully disputing their final results. The website is an initiative of Antwerp lawyer Christophe Vangeel.

The initiative is aimed at secondary school students who have received a B or C certificate. Those with a C certificate must repeat a year, and those with a B certificate are advised to choose a different study track.

The website also targets higher education students who failed to pass one or more courses or who didn’t finish an internship successfully. On the website, students answer a series of questions concerning their end-of-year results. They then receive advice on how successful they would be in challenging those results, from “a small chance” to “100%”. If the site considers a student’s chance to be good, it advises them to contact the legal firm.

“I have 17 years of experience in education cases and always got the same questions, so I looked for a way to give answers in a more streamlined way,” Vangeel told Het Nieuwsblad.

The education sector has accused the lawyer of using a stunt to reel in students as clients. “This creates a distrust of class councils,” said Lieven Boeve, head of the Catholic education network. In secondary education, class councils – made up of teachers and advisors – evaluates challenges to results.

Education minister Hilde Crevits said that students and parents don’t need a lawyer to challenge results. “It’s a shame that some people want to turn exam disputes into a legal market,” she said.

Photo courtesy UGent