Assuring the quality of education and research

The quality of scientific and academic education and research is also being well maintained in the Netherlands. In order to keep Dutch higher education at the level of the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area, a strong system of quality assurance is used. So, institutions may only offer approved Bachelor’s and Master's programmes to international students.

Programme accreditation and the institutional audit
The Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) plays a central role in the quality assurance process. Programmes at universities are audited by the NVAO on the basis of various criteria. All training programmes are audited for their quality, and only approved programmes receive government funding. Also, it is only for these programmes that students receive financial support (student grants and loans), a valid university degree and a degree title. All accredited programmes are included in the Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes (CROHO). PhD programmes are not covered by the accreditation process.

Once the NVAO has accredited a programme, this assessment is valid for six years. After that, a fresh accreditation takes place. Since 2011, however, universities have also been able to apply for an institutional accreditation. After a positive assessment accreditations take less time and are less detailed.

Standard Evaluation Protocol
In order to guarantee the quality of research the VSNU, NWO and KNAW use a Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP). The core of this system is that international peers evaluate the research through site visits and based on an internal review by the research unit. Universities' research institutes and research groups are assessed every six years. Attention is also paid to the social impact of the research.