Viewpoints:

Accreditation and external supervision

General

In Dutch higher education, there is a system of accreditation that aims to guarantee 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 decisions of the NVAO lead to the recognition of diplomas, titles and funding of programmes. The starting point is that all programmes are assessed every six years by a panel of independent experts approved by the NVAO.

This assessment takes place in a comparative perspective with related programmes.

Students can be involved in accreditation in three different ways: they can be part of the assessment panel as student members, they can be questioned by the assessment panel, or they can contribute to the student chapter. 

Current affairs

The Accreditation Tailor-made Act has resulted in students being given a greater role in visitations. The final visitation report will contain a student chapter, written by students and freely designed.  

Within the European landscape of higher education, we see a shift from accreditation at the level of programmes to accreditation at the level of institutions. In the Netherlands, too, steps have already been taken towards institutional accreditation by means of the institutional quality assurance test (ITK) and the limited programme assessments (BOB). The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science now wants to switch entirely to a system of institutional accreditation. This proposal is now before the Lower House.

Viewpoint of the ISO

The ISO takes the view that the quality of education is of great importance and that it is therefore extremely important to determine once in a while whether study programmes are providing sufficient quality. In addition, the accreditation system should not only determine the quality of education, but also help to improve it. The student voice must be clearly and consistently considered throughout this process. Therefore, the ISO, in cooperation with the evaluation agencies QANU and NQA, organises an annual ‘Feedback Day’, intended for all students involved in the accreditation process.   

After much consultation with the ministry, our supporters and other stakeholders, the ISO is confident about the final proposal for institutional accreditation. After receiving approval from the Dutch Lower House, the proposal will have to be fleshed out officially. The ISO will therefore remain closely involved in the process of institutional accreditation in order to guarantee both the position of students and the quality of education.