A nine-year-old boy will become the youngest ever graduate at the end of this year, sparking a competition among the world’s top universities to sign up the genius boy.
Laurent Simons has an IQ of at least 145 and will complete his Electrical Engineering Degree from the Eindhoven University of Technology in December.
“I really want to go to California, the weather is nice there,” said Laurent, who is half Dutch and half Belgium.
But Laurent’s father, Alexander (37) said his son could be tempted away from the California sun by the dreaming spires of Oxford.
Professors from the US’s best universities are already courting Laurent, who loves playing video games like Fortnite and Minecraft, with offers of Master’s courses and even PhD programmes. Some have already given him homework after informal Skype interviews.
“There is definitely competition to get him on the course. If he goes to America then we will go out with him and split our time there with his grandparents,” Alexander said.
“But Oxford and Cambridge are also in the major league and it would be very much more convenient for us,” the Belgian dentist said.
One of Laurent’s mentors, a Switzerland based professor in mathematics, went to Oxford. Maths is Laurent’s favourite subject, he said, because “it is so vast, there is statistics, geometry and algebra.”
John Wilkes, who went to Jesus College and is now Dean of Academics at the American University in Switzerland, taught Laurent in summer courses.
“He really was a delight to tutor and very well balanced, able to be like a child and an adult at the same time. I taught him when he was six years and we studied at the level of a 16 year-old,” he said.
“I really would recommend Oxford for him. He would develop somewhere the environment is about learning rather than being taught. For someone like Laurent that is ideal,” he added.
Amazingly, Laurent only began his university studies in March and has nearly completed in just nine months. His tutor said he was three times more intelligent than his next cleverest student.
Laurent finished secondary school aged eight after completing six years of education in just a year and a half. His father and mother watched him collect his diploma in a hall full of 18 years old.
His grandparents also inspired Laurent to want to revolutionise heart surgery because they have cardiac problems.
By the time he got to university, Laurent, who has a photographic memory, was already used to being the youngest student in the room.
“He is three times smarter than the best student I have met in my long career. He achieves a level of solutions that many adult students never reach,” said Professor Peter Baltus who teaches Laurent at the university in the Netherlands
Laurent started primary school at four years, completed the year and then completed the next five years of study in just 12 months.
Laurent, who dreams of becoming a heart surgeon or astronaut when he grows up, will smash the world record held since 1994 by Michael Kearney, who graduated from the University of Alabama at the age of ten.
He was six when he went to high school and a year later, to fight off boredom at school, was allowed to start a research project at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam.
Lydia, his mother, added, “He is just as stubborn as any other nine year old when dinner is not to his liking and that’s a lot!”