In Dutch higher education, there is a system of accreditation that aims to ensure the basic quality of programmes and institutions. Every existing programme at a higher education institution is periodically accredited by the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO). The NVAO’s decisions lead to recognition of diplomas, titles and funding of programmes.
The basic principle is that all programmes are assessed every six years by a panel of independent experts approved by the NVAO. This assessment takes place in comparative perspective with related programmes. Students can be involved in this process in three different ways: they can be part of the review panel as student members, they can be interviewed by the review panel, or they can contribute to the student chapter of the review.
At the European level, we observe a shift from accreditation at programme level to accreditation at institution level. In the Netherlands, too, steps have already been taken towards institution-level accreditation through the Institution Test for Quality Assurance (ITK) and the Restricted Programme Assessments (BOB). The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science now wants to switch completely to a system of institutional accreditation. ISO has confidence in the final proposal of institution accreditation, but will once more be closely involved in the further details of the process, in order to represent the student’s perspective.
In addition, ISO retains the view that quality of education is of great importance and that it is therefore extremely important to perform regular checks on this. Here, the accreditation system should not only ascertain the quality of education, but also help improve it. The student voice should be clearly and consistently included in this entire process: this is why ISO organises an annual ‘Feedback Day’, intended for all students involved in the accreditation process.