ISO and VSNU laud institutional accreditation based on improvement and trust
The Dutch National Student Association (ISO) and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) are pleased with the details of the system of institutional accreditation as outlined by outgoing Minister Van Engelshoven in her letter to parliament. They see this as a step towards a quality assurance system with a stronger basis in improvement and trust. This new system will offer more opportunities to discuss the quality of education within institutions. In order to safeguard the position of students, the ISO, the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands have concluded a covenant to guarantee the participation of students in the quality assurance system for higher education.
In the new system of institutional accreditation, the assessment of the quality of education of each individual degree programme by the government will be replaced by a structural assessment of the extent to which institutions guarantee and improve the quality of education themselves. The structural assessment of degree programmes will continue to take place, in accordance with the basic principles of quality assurance. These assessments will be conducted in accordance with European requirements and by independent panels that include student members.
‘When external oversight is partially withdrawn, internal oversight must be strengthened. We therefore welcome the embedding of the position of student participation in the system of institutional accreditation and the strengthening of student participation in a general sense. It is not only important that students have a say in the quality of education, but also that the topic is actively discussed and that such discussions have an effect,’ says Dahran Çoban of the ISO.
According to both organisations, internal quality monitoring provides an opportunity to have an open discussion about the quality of education with administrators, students and teaching staff of a specific institution. Rather than having to conduct a box-ticking exercise at regular intervals, these parties will be able to reflect more critically and discuss a range of highly important matters that transcend degree programmes and can be given a place in the quality assurance system by means of institutional accreditation. These include internal governance, the responsiveness of the organisation and social issues, such as workloads and student welfare.
‘This new accreditation system allows us to respond more effectively to new forms of education, such as flexibilisation, modularisation or international exchange programmes. This will benefit both students and university staff,’ adds VSNU president Pieter Duisenberg.
Once the new system of institutional accreditation has been introduced, degree programmes will always be assessed by a panel of independent and expert peers. The relevant representative advisory body will be involved in the process of composing these panels and have the right to be consulted on their composition.