Nine-year-old Belgian child prodigy drops out of Dutch university | News | DW | 10.12.2019

Visit the new DW website

Take a look at the beta version of We're not done yet! Your opinion can help us make it better.

  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


Nine-year-old Belgian child prodigy drops out of Dutch university

A nine-year-old Belgian boy who was due to become the world's youngest university graduate has ended his studies at his Dutch university due to a dispute over the end date of his degree.

Young prodigy Laurent Simons made headlines around the world last month when he looked set to complete a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at Eindhoven's University of Technology before the end of the year.   

It would have made him the world's first ever graduate under the age of 10.

But on Monday, the university told Laurent and his parents that plan no longer looked feasible, considering the number of exams he still needed to finish before his birthday on December 26.

Read more: German education system has room for improvement: report

"Laurent is an exceptionally gifted boy, who is going through his studies at an unprecedented pace. Nevertheless, the university did not believe that this end date was feasible given the number of exams Laurent had to pass before his 10th birthday on December 26," the university said in a statement.

The university said it had suggested a timetable that would have allowed him to finish in mid-2020, which would have been "in any case a very fast timetable."

'We have good times ahead of us'

However, the boy's parents decided not to accept the offer and immediately ended Laurent's study in Eindhoven. "Until last week everything was fine, and now suddenly they see a delay of six months," Laurent's father, Alexander Simons, told Reuters on Tuesday.

The exact date of Laurent's graduation had never really been an issue for the family, he said, but became one as they felt the university was reacting to their plans to move the boy's further education abroad. He insisted that his son now had new plans. "Today he already got two offers" from foreign universities, Alexander Simons said. "We have good times ahead of us."

Read more: Why Germany needs more international students

Born to a Belgian father and Dutch mother, Laurent was for the early part of his life raised by his grandparents in the Belgian coastal resort of Ostend. Starting school at four, he completed primary in a year and a half. It has taken him just five years to go through primary and secondary school and university.

Inspired by Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, Laurent has said he wants to research artificial organs, and ultimately develop an entire artificial body in his own laboratory.

Currently the youngest person to obtain a college degree is American Michael Kearney, who achieved the feat in June 1994 at the age of 10 years 4 months, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

sri/dr (Reuters, AFP)

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.