Institutional accreditation to replace programme accreditation in the Netherlands in 2024

The accreditation system in the Netherlands is set to change considerably in 2024 with the introduction of institutional accreditation (Dutch: instellingsaccreditatie). Both outgoing Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven and accreditation body NVAO support this change, in which the existing programme accreditation (Dutch: opleidingsaccreditatie) will cease to exist.

As the NVAO writes:

The Dutch quality assurance system is ready for the next phase. NVAO is also of the opinion that after the past five assessment cycles since 1990 and the introduction of the accreditation system in 2002, Dutch higher education institutions can be enabled to assess their own programs in accordance with European guidelines (European Standards and Guidelines).

If you can read Dutch, you can study Van Engelshoven’s Kamerbrief over uitwerking van instellingsaccreditatie, which includes NVAO’s letter with recommendations.

There has been a lot of discussion (in Dutch) about institutional accreditation, and it has at least one vocal opponent: student union LSVb argues that the ‘dogma of institutional accreditation will damage higher education‘ (in Dutch).

Impact on my research

When I submitted my research proposal to NWO in January 2020, the introduction of institutional accreditation in the Netherlands was still uncertain. With my research taking place between 2021-2026, I’ll be halfway through when institutional accreditation is introduced. But it seems likely my initial focus on programme accreditation will shift to include institutional accreditation.

Fortunately (but intentionally), my research’s stakeholder group includes two universities that are part of the institutional accreditation pilot project, so I won’t be short of sound advice in this regard. At first sight, it seems unlikely that the work of review panels involved in institutional accreditation differs markedly from panels involved in programme accreditation. Both carry out high-stakes assessments in an ad-hoc, multidisciplinary panel of peers, using a rather open set of standards and under considerable time pressure. Time (and lots of fieldwork) will tell – stay tuned.