The ISO has long plead for accessible education in which everyone has equal opportunities. The starting point is: equal opportunities by making a difference. Three different phases are important when it comes to accessibility and equal opportunities in higher education: admission, connection and progression.


For the ISO, admission to higher education is all about (prospective) students who want to gain a place in a higher education programme. They must have the opportunity to follow the study programme they want to. They must be well supported in making the right choice and not run into unnecessary barriers. Selection and additional admission requirements should be avoided as much as possible. If a programme does impose additional admission requirements or selects, this must be clearly communicated and substantiated. It must also be possible to substantiate the chosen additional requirements or selection criteria properly and scientifically. Moreover, the background and situation of the (prospective) student must be taken into account during admission. Education benefits from diversity and everyone must have equal opportunities for admission to a programme. Admission is also custom work!


The various forms of education must fit in with each other as well as possible. Where this is not the case, students must be guided properly. When looking at good coordination, it is not only about the returns. The ISO sees student success in a broader sense and in a different way than efficiency. According to the ISO, student success is the success a student experiences in the area of personal development and self-fulfilment, due to the space for development that is offered. Student success can therefore mean different things to different students. Student success means something different for each student, ranging from obtaining a diploma without being bound by time pressure, to gaining new professional experiences that will benefit the student later in life.

The binding study advice (BSA) is important in the affiliation phase. According to the ISO, the BSA contributes to high performance pressure among students. In addition, the BSA’s referral function does not work in practice. A large proportion of students with a negative BSR subsequently enroll in the same programme at another educational institution. Moreover, the ISO sees a trend that the BSR is used as a way of selecting ‘after the gate’. For this reason, the ISO advocates making study advice non-binding and improving study guidance for students who are in danger of failing the BSA.


Not every student immediately finds himself in the right place at the right level of education. This is, of course, completely logical; not everyone develops at the same speed and it is, moreover, extremely difficult to assess what you like and what you are good at at at a young age. Fortunately, our education system offers the possibility of switching and moving on. Unfortunately, this has been made increasingly difficult for students in recent years. On the one hand due to financial pressure, on the other hand due to increased additional admission requirements and the required character of bridging programmes. Of course, it is important that students start their study programme well-rested and with sufficient knowledge, but the education system must also offer them the opportunity to choose another path without too much delay or mounting debts. The ISO therefore considers it very important to offer good transfer opportunities. 

Current affairs

In the past decade, several policy measures have been taken in higher education with a (in)direct negative effect on accessibility, connection and throughput. First of all, the hard cut-off was introduced in 2012/2013: students now need to complete their bachelor’s before they can start a master’s programme. In addition, several things have changed with the KiV Act: the automatic right of admission to a university bachelor’s degree has been abolished, the automatic right of admission to the transfer master’s has been abolished (which leads to more selection possibilities in the master’s), further educational requirements in the university of applied sciences have become possible for MBO transfer students and the basic grant has been abolished. Moreover, far-reaching internationalisation may have consequences for the accessibility of education and the KiV Act has increased the selection possibilities in master’s programmes. This is confirmed in the report “The State of Education 2019”, which shows that selection in master’s programmes is increasing. It also shows that many programmes say they do not select, but they do impose additional requirements, especially on students from universities of applied sciences and foreign students (for example, a motivation or a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA)). The ISO pleads for better information and substantiation of selection methods, so that students know better where they stand. The report also shows that the flow from 4 MBO to HBO bachelor and HBO bachelor to wo master is decreasing, especially for students with a non-Western migration background. It also appears that the throughput of mbo students and vwo students with highly educated parents is higher than that of mbo students and vwo students with low educated parents (according to the Inflow and Throughput Monitor). In short, it is high time to change this.  


The coronavirus has a major impact on higher education. Here, we discuss the most important consequences for admission, connection and progression.  

On 19 March, Minister van Engelshoven announced the postponement of the binding study advice (bsa). Universities and universities of applied sciences are giving first-year students who are delayed in their studies because of the corona measures and who, as a result, do not achieve the norm of the binding study advice (bsa) in the 2019-2020 academic year, the opportunity to achieve the bsa norm in the next academic year.  They can do this in various ways. Universities and universities of applied sciences have the option of generically postponing the BSR for all first-year students until the second year. They can also choose to establish further guidelines that make it clear to students when they are eligible for a postponement of the BSR. For example, some institutions expect their students to pass the propaedeutic phase in the second year.  

Another important measure is the temporary disappearance of the hard cut. It is possible that a student is delayed due to the corona crisis and is unable to complete the preparatory course before starting the subsequent course. This applies, for instance, to students who want to progress from senior secondary vocational education (mbo) to higher vocational education (hbo), from a higher vocational education propaedeutic phase to a university bachelor’s degree, from a university bachelor’s degree to a university master’s degree or from a university bachelor’s degree to a university master’s degree. For these students, the previous education must be completed before 1 January 2021. The preparatory course must submit a completion recommendation before 1 August 2020. The subsequent course of study will assess whether the student in question has been conditionally admitted on the basis of the completion recommendation.