9 January 2018 • HOP, Bas Belleman
The Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders will be limited to giving out ‘satisfactories’
At this time, degree programmes in higher education can receive only three ratings: satisfactory, good or excellent. But the times they are a changin’. Soon, the NVAO (the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders) will only be able to say whether a degree programme is good enough or not: no more indications of high performance.
This is because the Inspectorate of Education criticised the ‘differentiated assessments’ (good and excellent), saying that they are unreliable. Even the NVAO had once said the same thing, and the Education Council of the Netherlands thought they should be abolished, so Minister Van Engelshoven has arrived at a logical conclusion: get rid of them.
Monitoring an independent approach
For the rest, the Inspectorate sees the quality assurance in higher education as doing a pretty good job. But caution is advised when it comes to the independence of the quality controllers: evaluators are commissioned to assess degree programmes but they also sometimes give advice. These two roles should be kept separate.
The NVAO might do a somewhat better job of considering the reliability of its own assessments. The Inspectorate is advising the NVAO to take a close look at whether its various evaluators actually interpret the NVAO’s assessment criteria in about the same way and to work out its assessment procedures better.
In the end we all want good grades.