4 July 2019 • HOP, Hein Cuppen
Minister makes participation in NSS mandatory
Minister Van Engelshoven wants to legally mandate all universities and universities of applied sciences to participate in the National Student Survey. She is just completing a draft of the bill.
At the end of March, the universities of applied sciences revoked their confidence in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2019, the annual student satisfaction survey conducted by Studiekeuze123 among almost 300,000 students. As a result of the new privacy legislation, institutions aren’t allowed to share as much information and students had to complete the survey themselves. This resulted in numerous errors, making the data less reliable.
The universities of applied sciences didn’t believe that the errors could be corrected and immediately cancelled their participation in the NSS 2019. The research universities and the umbrella organisation for independent universities of applied sciences still saw some possibilities and were prepared to wait for a follow-up survey by the National Statistics Agency (CBS).
The CBS concluded two weeks ago that there was still hope, as long as the institutions were willing to share their student enrolment data. On Monday, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) announced that the research universities are willing to do this.
The meeting between the ministry, student organisations and the institutions about the future of the NSS starting in 2020 was less successful. The research universities and the universities of applied sciences didn’t consent to the proposed agreements. According to the VSNU, they were afraid that the agreement would make the NSS unsuitable for improving the degree programmes. One of the concerns was that if students were still allowed to complete the survey anonymously it would lead to errors again.
In April, Minister Van Engelshoven saw no reason to legally mandate participation in the NSS. However, after the negotiations broke down she changed her mind. This afternoon, Minister Slob announced on her behalf that all research universities and universities of applied sciences, both public and privately funded institutions, must participate in the survey.
This summer, the bill will be published online to allow for public input. Then it will be submitted to the Council of State for advice and then it will be forwarded to Parliament for a vote. Slob believes the bill will be passed in time for the 2020 NSS.
“Mandatory participation was not on our agenda,” says VSNU spokesperson Bart Pierik in his first response “What Minister Slob said in Parliament yesterday reflects his own opinion. Our goal is to work with all parties to find a sustainable solution, including one that addresses the problems that occurred in the 2019 NSS edition. We want an NSS that actually helps students to make choices, but we also want it to provide reliable data so that institutions can improve their degree programmes. We hope that this bill will not interfere with our goal.”
Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science