1. What does this passing grade say about my study programme’s quality?
Actually, it says very little. Since 2011, programmes no longer require a comprehensive assessment. That was the year the Institutional Quality Assurance Assessment was introduced, where NVAO determines whether an educational institution is capable of ensuring the quality of its programmes. EUR successfully meeting the requirements of the institutional audit therefore says more about the university as a whole than the calibre of the university’s programmes. NVAO still individually assesses study programmes, but this type of assessment is far less comprehensive if an institution already passed the quality assessment.
If you want to know how the inspector of educational quality rated your study programme, take a look at the overview with an assessment per study programme.
2. Why is accreditation so important?
A programme is not recognised by the government unless it is accredited. If it isn’t. you have to pay the institutional tuition fee instead of the lower European tuition fee. You also won’t receive a public transport card and you won’t be able to take out a loan from DUO (the Education Executive Agency). Furthermore, an unaccredited programme is not permitted to issue a legally recognised diploma or degree certificate.
That is why accreditation is important for programmes. Successfully meeting the requirements of the quality assessment makes accreditation simpler for studies. There’s a massive amount of paperwork involved when preparing for accreditation, and the idea behind the institutional audit is that individual programmes will subsequently have fewer hoops to jump through.
Following an institutional audit, a degree study is assessed on only three aspects rather than six. The degree programme’s objectives, how these objectives are realised, and whether these objectives are attained must still be demonstrated. Which components have been developed for this purpose, the qualifications of personnel, the facilities needed, and whether quality standards are met are no longer assessed by the panel if the institution has passed the quality assessment.
3. Why did the university receive a passing grade?
Because selected students and employees painted a positive picture of the university. The NVAO issued its decision after an independent panel met extensively with students and employees. The panel spent five days on campus and assessed many aspects including the university’s educational vision. The panel feels that the university has a clear vision and policy and that this vision is being implemented and evaluated. All these factors resulted in a positive assessment for the university.
Additionally, the university has to submit the accreditation request on time and this process is not free: an institutional audit costs 36,400 euro.
4. Will this prevent my diploma losing its value in the future?
When it comes to accreditations and assessments, the 2011 NVAO report on Inholland often comes to mind. 20 to 25 percent of students were wrongly issued diplomas. For the abridged final projects this percentage was 50 to 100 percent. In the same year it also emerged that diplomas were wrongly issued in Zwolle. Accreditation is meant to counter substandard quality of programmes, but during earlier assessments there were no signs something was amiss at the schools involved. Moreover, NVAO often first issues a warning, giving programmes time to resolve problems.
So to answer your question: no, successfully meeting the requirements of the institutional audit won’t guarantee your diploma’s value. The accreditation of your programme is what matters, so keep a close eye on that.
5. How can the university receive a passing grade if I always criticise my lecturers in evaluations?
Your opinion about your programme isn’t relevant for this assessment. It’s about how the university deals with this feedback. In its report, NVAO wrote “EUR has a comprehensive system for evaluating and monitoring policy objectives related to the quality of education. The institution has established cycles of varying duration allowing for introducing improvement measures in the short, medium and long term.” So all those emails asking you to please evaluate your course, programme or some other aspect of your education are more than just filler for your mailbox. According to the NVAO, EUR takes your feedback seriously.