Accreditation and Quality Assurance

Accreditation and quality assurance of education, especially higher education is carried out with great care and attention to details. A guaranteed excellence in standards of education and alignment with the Qualifications Framework proposed for the European Higher Education Area is ensured through the maintenance of a system of legal regulation as well as quality assurance through the process of accreditation. The main bodies and organisations for accreditation and quality assurance of the education system are discussed here.

Organisations Monitoring Accreditation and Quality Assurance

This ministry oversees the legislation regarding education. Along with this ministry, the ministries of agriculture and public health also play a vital role in monitoring the content in their areas of expertise.

Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO): This organisation carries out quality assurance through a system of accreditation wherein it evaluates programmes offered by Dutch universities according to certain rules and criteria. As per the Dutch Higher Education Act, degree programmes offered by research universities a swell as those of applied sciences must be evaluated as per certain criteria.

Only those programmes which follow the criteria receive accreditation. Accreditation is recognition of the course or programme for a duration of 6 years. Programmes that are accredited are eligible to receive government funding. Moreover, even students receive scholarship and financial aid when they opt for recognised degrees in accredited degree programmes.

Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes or CROHO: All the study programmes which have received accreditation are listed in CROHO.
These study programmes are eligible for funding from the state and students enrolled in them can take financial aid or scholarships with ease.

Institutional Quality Assessment: Since the month of January in 2011, the Netherlands has acquired a new accreditation system. The process is essentially the same but a new method called institutional quality assessment has been included in the process.

Higher educational institutions can request the NVAO to performance an “institutional quality assessment” for determining the extent to which the institution is capable of ensuring the quality of programmes it offers are excellent. These programmes can be accredited in lesser time in this way.

Funded or Approved Status: Apart from this, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science also confers recognition of higher educational institutions by conferring them with the status of funded/approved. Funded status incidicated the institution is completely financed by the government. Approved status indicated that the institution does not have receipt of funds from the government and reliance on own sources of funding.

Regardless of whether a degree programme is provided by funded or approved institutions, there must be accreditation and registration in the CROHO for it to be recognised. If it is not registered here, quality is not assured by the quality assurance system in the Netherlands wi th the exception of those programmes approved by National Qualifications Framework.

National Qualifications Framework for European Higher Education Area: This is a vital outcome of the Bologna Process. This framework provides the general and common structure of the qualifications provided in the three cycle education system of countries which have signed the Bologna Declaration. This includes the Netherlands. This framework provides the recommendations and guidelines for mutually understandable qualifications to develop.

The Netherlands was one of the first nations in the European Higher Education Area to complete the national qualifications framework, according to a report by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture in Holland. This qualifications framework has been evaluated by the Verification Committee. It has been found to be compatible with the QF-HEA or the Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area.

This National Qualifications Framework provides detailed information regarding the learning outcomes linked with three levels of higher educational qualification. This is compatible with the international framework. The NVAO evaluated the framework and updates it when needed.

EQF-LLL (European Qualifications Framework For Lifelong Learning): This is an overarching framework for the EU and it comprises 8 levels including qualifications awarded in general and vocational secondary education plus higher education. The Netherlands is presently developing the National Qualifications Framework based on this framework for lifelong learning.

NUFFIC (The Netherlands): This organisation conducts international mobility programmes and scholarships. This also includes institutional cooperation programmes. Information about higher education systems in Holland and credential evaluation services are provided by NUFFIC.

PhD Programmes: These are not accredited by the NVAO and they are accredited by the individual institutions. Programmes and courses leading to certificate or diploma or even specialised courses are not accredited by NAVO.

Specialised Courses: Accreditation of unaffiliated specialised courses is done by the institution in question itself. However, those specialised courses which are part of Master's programmes that have been accredited are accorded automatic accreditation through the main programme

Foreign Accreditations

Foreign courses and degrees are provided recognition and accreditation through a separate process. Institutions worldwide which offer undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses may or may not be recognised in Holland depending upon the evaluation criteria. Many of the programmes are affiliated to international programmes by virtue of which they are recognised. A Dutch university of Applied Sciences has been validated through accredited British universities which award the degree, for example, according to the Study in Holland official portal. 

Main organisations for the recognition and accreditation of home country study programmes include the following:
  • Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Ministry of Welfare, Health and Cultural Affairs
  • Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders
Studies which have been pursued in foreign countries have different accreditation and recognition process. This include the following:

Centre for International Recognition and Certificate/CIRC: This is a part of the NUFFIC or Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education. This includes evaluation of foreign qualifications based on the request of institutions of higher education and ministries.

Informatiecentrum Richtlijn Algemeen Stelsel/IRAS: This is also a division of NUFFIC which is responsible for the recognition of international degrees and foreign courses. This is an information centre which provides data regarding the recognition of professional qualifications and it deals with credential recognition for access to professions in Holland following higher studies.

Sector Internationale Diplomawaardering/COLO:This deals with recognition and accreditation of foreign degrees at secondary vocational level. This is an assessment and accreditation body for secondary education only.


Accreditation and quality assurance are considered very important in the education system specifically higher education in the Netherlands. There are many systems of accreditation and quality assurance followed during the process of evaluating a course, degree or programme in Dutch educational institutions.

For more details see official website Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
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