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Child prodigy, 9, quits university in row over graduation date

A nine-year-old boy who was set to become the world’s youngest ever graduate has quit his university following a row over his graduation date.

Laurent Simons made headlines around the world after he was on track to complete a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Eindhoven’s University of Technology in the Netherlands.

The Belgian boy – who has an IQ of 145 – was due to complete his studies before the end of the year, which would have made him the world’s first ever graduate under the age of 10.

The nine-year-old studies electrical engineering

Image: The boy’s parents believe the university’s decision is related to his wish to study a PhD abroad

But the university has now told Laurent and his parents that the target is no longer feasible because of the number of exams he still needs to finish before his birthday on Boxing Day.


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

The university added that it had offered “a still phenomenally quick scheme in which he would end his education mid-2020”.

But Laurent’s parents decided not to accept the offer and immediately ended his studies in Eindhoven.

More from Belgium

Nine-year-old Belgian student Laurent Simons, who studies electrical engineering and who will soon become the youngest university graduate in the world, poses at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, Netherlands November 20, 2019. Picture taken November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Image: Laurent has been described as an ‘exceptionally gifted boy’

His father Alexander Simons said: “Until last week everything was fine, and now suddenly they see a delay of six months.”

He said the exact date of Laurent’s graduation had never been an issue for the family but became one as they felt the university was reacting to their plans to move the boy’s further education abroad.

A programme director at the university had previously described Laurent as “maybe three times smarter than the smartest student we’ve ever had”.

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

Laurent talks with his professor Peter Baltus

Image: Laurent had been hailed as ‘three times smarter’ than the university’s previous smartest student

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

Laurent, who is inspired by Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, says 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 degree is American Michael Kearney, who achieved the feat in June 1994 at the age of 10 years and four months, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.


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