A key element of the Code of Conduct is the provision of information by educational institutions to students. It is particularly important for international students, who are leaving their home country and starting a new life elsewhere, to be well aware of what studying in the Netherlands entails. Agreements on the provision of information are laid down mainly in section 2 of the Code of Conduct. Article 2.1 begins as follows:
“The educational institution shall provide, amongst others through its website, timely, reliable and easily accessible information to international students about the study programmes offered and practical details relating to living in the Netherlands, covering at least: (…).”
Periodic reviews of information provision
In view of the great importance of good information, every year the National Commission conducts a review of the quality of information provided on the websites of a number of educational institutions to assess whether it is consistent with the agreements set out in the Code of Conduct. These ‘periodic reviews of information provision’ focus on the websites of the educational institutions concerned, since these are the primary channels through which information is provided to current and prospective international students. In 2022, the Commission noted that a number of conclusions and recommendations are revisited year after year. This prompted the decision to prepare a trends report.
The Trends Report reveals which themes and topics have led to which findings and recommendations in recent years, and what trends can be detected in them. A welcome trend is that information provision on a wide range of topics has improved significantly. For instance, more and more educational institutions are making clear in their English name whether they are a University or a University of Applied Sciences. Combined with a clear explanation of the differences in education provided at universities (WO) and universities of applied sciences (HBO), this enables students to make a more informed choice of programme or institution.
Matters requiring particular attention year after year due to the substandard quality of the information concerning them include accreditation and the naming of study programmes. Information on accreditation status could be greatly improved by clearly indicating which programmes are accredited and what this accreditation entails. It is, after all, extremely important for a student to understand which degree is obtained through which programme, and what kind of recognition accompanies it. A student knows the value of the degree obtained from a programme followed in the Netherlands with NVAO accreditation. But even where a programme is accredited by a foreign body, it should be clear what the accreditation and the value of the diploma to be obtained are.
The Commission prepares the Trends Report for internal use, in principle. As the tips for improving the provision of information may also be of interest to others, the Report is published on www.internationalstudy.nl. The full report is only available in Dutch, the short version is available in English.
Review of Information Provision 2023
Aside from the Trends Report, a new periodic review of information provision was published this year. On the advice of the Student Advisory Board (SAB), the number of institutions included in the review was increased, from six to eight. The SAB endorses the importance of providing good quality information to international students and sets great store by the periodic review conducted by the Commission. In the review conducted this year, particular attention was focused on the information provided by educational institutions on study progress and the related requirements, such as the requirement for students to achieve 50% of the proportional nominal study load for a year or period. The website of Hogeschool Zeeland provides a good example of how students can be clearly informed about this.
Would you like to find out more about the Periodic Review of Information Provision 2023? The report on the periodic review can be found on the Code of Conduct website. The report is currently only available in Dutch, a short English version will be available soon.