Ms Bussemaker, Minister of Education, has announced that six universities will be allowed to apply for an ‘institutional accreditation’ over the coming years. They will then be allowed to evaluate their own study programmes. This will be an experiment.

They are then exempted from study programme evaluations by external parties. In the meantime, the universities must demonstrate that they are keeping a finger on the pulse in terms of the quality of their education. They will then no longer be subject to external evaluations for many years. In 2017, the first group (three universities) will be allowed to start working on this experiment. Another three institutions will follow a year later.


Bussemaker is consequently breaking with previous policy. She wants to give educational institutions greater confidence and break through the culture of fear. In the current system, separate study programmes are reviewed by external experts every six years. Only approved study programmes are allowed to issue bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

The six universities who want to acquire this new institutional accreditation are granted a one-year hiatus during which they do not need to devote any time to regular educational reviews.


The regular accreditation system will be amended as well. Bussemaker wants to reduce the paperwork and cut in half the amount of information that study programmes are required to supply to obtain a stamp of approval. The information that reviewers may and may not expect to have access to must be more clearly specified. This is not to result in a checklist, but in a ‘shared understanding about what is to be evaluated and why’.

The Minister is distressed about the fact that fearful faculties would rather be safe than sorry and consequently document everything. She refers to one study programme with sixty files for a single accreditation dossier and another Education and Examination Regulations (OER) with no less than 1,100 pages. On the other hand, it is understandable that study programmes are in a state of uncertainty: expert panels sometime ask for too many documents when they evaluate these programmes. HOP