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Nine-year-old prodigy leaves university in Netherlands without graduating

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Child prodigy Laurent Simons has left his university course following a dispute over his graduation date.

Laurent, 9, of Belgium, 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.

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.

Belgian student Laurent Simons, 9, poses during a photo session at his home in November in Amsterdam. Laurent was studying electrical engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands but has left without graduating.

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 10 months for a study that normally lasts three years."

However, Alexander Simons 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 Simons told CNN in reference to the decision.

"If he lets it go, you never know if he will get that opportunity again."

He 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 Ph.D.

"The way they treat things, it's not correct," he said. "Laurent is not their belonging."

Laurent Simons poses with his parents Lydia and Alexander Simons.

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."

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He said the Simons family had been open about Laurent's plan to eventually study in the United States.

TUE said in its statement that it was "regrettable" that the Simons family 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 U.S. university, where Laurent will study for a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

Alexander Simons declined to name the institution, citing a family decision to reveal Laurent's progress only at the end of any given course.

"We don't want to have pressure on him," he said.


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