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Changed your name? Then you may ask for a new diploma

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Anyone who changes their name will soon be able to obtain a replacement degree certificate from their university or university of applied sciences. This has been set out in a bill passed by the Dutch parliament this week.

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In principle, the degree certificate awarded by a higher education institution can only be issued once. Even in the event of loss or theft, obtaining a replacement is out of the question. The most you can hope for is an official statement from DUO to confirm that you did actually graduate from your degree programme.

Until now, an exception has been granted in only one set of circumstances. Since 2011, the possibility of obtaining a replacement degree certificate with a new name has been open to graduates who have undergone gender reassignment.

Vigorous campaign
It was an exception that did not come easily (article in Dutch). A man whose birth gender was female had to campaign vigorously against his university’s decision to refuse him a degree certificate in his new name. The case caused considerable controversy.

At the time, the Dutch government sent a letter to institutes of higher education stating that in such cases the impact on the personal life of the individual should outweigh the strict rule that a degree certificate could only be issued once.

Several universities and universities of applied sciences have since requested the option to issue a replacement certificate in cases where a former student has changed their name, writes Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven in her explanatory notes to the bill. This possibility already exists in secondary education, and now higher education will follow suit.

Ridiculous name
Not only trangender people would like to change their name. Some people simply hate their “ridiculous or unbecoming first name or surname,” the Minister explains. Or their surname causes them psychological harm and they have strong feelings about taking the name of their other parent, an adoptive parent or a guardian.

In such cases, you can submit a request to have your name changed and apply for a new degree certificate on this basis. However, no new certificate will be issued to graduates who have married and taken their partner’s surname; that is not within the remit of the new law.

Anyone who does receive a replacement certificate is required to hand in the old one to prevent fraud.

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