In the past year, the National Commission conducted two investigations into the provision of information to international students. The Commission selected twelve educational institutes for both investigations, and examined the websites of the institutes and several public registers: the Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes (CROHO), the databases of the Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) and the course selectors Studiekeuze123 and Studyfinder.
The first investigation examined how educational institutes inform international students about their study programmes. The website of an institute is a main source of information for an international student. However, searching the institutes’ websites is not always an easy task. Each of the registers mentioned uses – to an extent – different criteria for displaying an educational offer. This leads to large differences in the number and the names of the study programmes. The most important conclusion therefore is that the definition of educational offer is not exactly clear. It would be advisable that educational institutes clearly state on their websites and in the registers mentioned what they offer, as well as the CROHO number.
The second investigation that followed examined what information the institutes give about the quality and expectation of their educational offer. The Commission noted that this varied per institute. In some cases the information was not only difficult to find, but also limited. The institutes can add information to the public registers themselves. However, the investigation showed that this possibility was not always being used and that the information submitted by the institute was not always checked. Finally, it turned out that the institutes use thirty different accreditation organizations of which it is unclear whether they all meet the conditions of Article 5.2 of the Code of Conduct.
- Amsterdam University of Arts – on the website the institution provides elaborate information about the quality of education. Supported by a report and decision of the NVAO about the institutional audit. See: http://www.ahk.nl/en/background-information/
- Erasmus University Rotterdam – the study programs are presented in a clear way. For each study program the formal name, CROHOnumber and degree to which the program educates are mentioned. See: https://www.eur.nl/english/bachelor/programmes/ibacs/specifications/
- Nyenrode Business University – the institution provides transparent information about the accreditation organisations the institution uses, and for which educational program. The information is easy accessible on the website of Nyenrode. See: http://www.nyenrode.nl/About/accreditations-rankings/Pages/Default.aspx
In April 2017 the Commission discussed the conclusions with the director of the NRTO, chairmen of the VH and VSNU and their policy offers. The umbrella organisations subscribe the importance of a clear and reliable provision of information about the study programs and will emphasise this with their members. The website of the educational institute is the primary source of information for international students and therefore is essential in branding the educational offer. The umbrella organisations and Commission have made an agreement that each year 5 institutes will be investigated on this theme. It keeps the institutes keen and helps improving the completeness of information on the websites. In reaction to the second research report the Commission, umbrella organisations and NVAO will explore the possibility for a (non-limitative) list of accreditation organisations, which fulfil the criteria of the Code of Conduct. Nuffic has informed the Commission that Studyfinder will be revised an improved to make de website more attractive for international student and institutes. The findings of the Commission will be used to improve Studyfinder.