Accreditation and Recognition
Dutch universities have a general reputation for well designed, modern courses and facilities but who accredits their qualifications? Since 2002 the NVAO (Netherlands and Flemish Accreditation Organisation) has been responsible for recognising all degrees in The Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium. Every course is checked thoroughly upon its introduction and then once again every six years. As a result, you can rest assured that the quality of Dutch higher education is checked regularly and is expected to maintain a high standard.
The NVAO checks not only academic context of Dutch degrees but also their real-life relevance and compatibility with the needs of the local economy. The NVAO also aims to increase the international mobility of students with Dutch degrees by improving the comparability of qualifications and maximising the transparency of the subjects studied.
As a result of the European Union’s Bologna process all degrees taught within the European Union should be of a notionally similar standard so there should not be issues with Dutch degrees for students who wish to return to the UK upon graduation.
We are not aware of any courses taught in English that do not have NVAO accreditation but it is always worth checking.
University Inspections and Quality Control
Responsibility for inspecting the quality of teaching at Dutch universities lies with the Dutch Ministry of Education (Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap). The Ministry checks all courses at regular intervals and inspection reports are published regularly.
Dutch research universities perform well in many of the world’s rankings of leading universities and the general trend is upwards. Indeed, all 13 research universities are in the Top 225 in the world according to the Times Higher Education rankings. Universities of applied sciences focus more on teaching and applied research and as such do not feature in these rankings.
Dutch students tend to choose universities based more on the overall reputation of the university with employers, within its local community and amongst fellow students. Rankings of post-graduation employment prospects and student experience are widely available.
There are two rankings published in the Netherlands (in Dutch only) and these are not available online, you need to buy the books from Keuzegids or find the relevant issue of Elsevier when it is published. These rankings are different from UK rankings and do not try to assign each individual university an overall position. Rankings focus much more on student experience, employability outcomes etc.