Laurent Simons, 9, made world headlines in November when news emerged that he was due to finish his studies in electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) in the Netherlands in December.
Child prodigy Laurent Simons has left his university course, following a dispute over his graduation date. Now, a dispute between TUE and the Simons family has seen Laurent terminate his studies without graduating.
TUE said it had recommended Laurent finish his studies by mid-2020, rather than at the end of December, because of the number of exams he still has to pass. "This would still be, in every way, a phenomenally fast schedule," the university said in a statement sent to CNN.
He started primary school when he was 4, and went to high school at 6, according to his father.
His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent's grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred. "They noticed something very special about Laurent," said Lydia.
Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. "They told us he is like a sponge," said Alexander. While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly. But Lydia has her own theory."I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy," she joked.
"That is not unusual," said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, in a statement."Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport." Hulshof said Laurent is "simply extraordinary" and praised the youngster. "Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here," he said.
Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he's also "going to study a bit of medicine."
While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too. "We don't want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes," said Alexander. "We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents."
Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.
TUE said Laurent's father, Alexander Simons, had "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."
However, Alexander told CNN that there had previously been no issue with the accelerated timetable. Ultimately, he said, the family decided Laurent would leave TUE as he had received an offer to study for a doctorate at a university in the United States, and wouldn't be able to split his time between the two institutions. "Sometimes you have to make choices," Alexander told CNN in reference to the decision.
"If he lets it go, you never know if he will get that opportunity again."
Alexander suggested that TUE's move to delay Laurent's studies is linked to the family's decision to move to a different university to study for his PhD. "The way they treat things, it's not correct," he said. "Laurent is not their belonging."
In response, Ivo Jongsma, a spokesman for TUE, told CNN: "We never try to keep our students to ourselves. It would never be a motivation to frustrate somebody." TUE said in its statement that it was "regrettable" that the Simons had rejected the new timetable. "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 university said, "The door is therefore still open for him to resume the study as long as the conditions remain realistic."
The family has not yet fixed a start date at the US university, where Laurent will study for a PhD in electrical engineering. Alexander declined to name the institution."We don't want to have pressure on him," he said.
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 Guinness World Records.
综合来源：新华网，CNN，BBC，New York Times，Washington Post