December 10, 2019 / 1:25 PM / 7 months ago

Belgian boy wonder drops out of Dutch university at the age of 9

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A nine-year-old Belgian boy who was on track to become the world’s youngest university graduate has terminated his studies at the Dutch university of Eindhoven following a dispute over his possible graduation date.

FILE PHOTO: Nine-year-old Belgian student Laurent Simons, who studies electrical engineering and was on track to become the youngest university graduate in the world, poses at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, Netherlands November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Laurent Simons made headlines around the globe last month, as he looked set to complete a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Eindhoven’s University of Technology before the end of the year - which 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 Dec 26.

“Laurent is an exceptionally gifted boy, who is going through his studies at an unprecedented pace”, the university said in a statement.

As the original plan looked unachievable, the university said it had offered “a still phenomenally quick scheme in which he would end his education mid-2020.”

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.

“It’s very peculiar that this all comes right at the time when we were finalizing our plans for Laurent’s PhD at a different university”, Simons senior said.

“There is a lot of interest in Laurent from universities he would be honored to join... There is so much demand for Laurent, he is a unique project which everybody wants to be a part of,” he added.

Laurent, inspired by Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, has said he wants to research artificial organs, and ultimately to 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.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Gareth Jones

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