1. What is the Code of Conduct?
The Code of Conduct for Higher Education (Code of Conduct) is a document containing rules of conduct intended to guarantee and improve the quality of education for international students in higher education. Also, it aims at promoting the mobility of international students. With the rules and standards laid down in the Code, the affiliated institutions guarantee a certain uniformity in the quality of the information provided to and care for international students.
2. Who is the Code of Conduct for?
On the one hand, the Code of Conduct is intended for international students who come to study in the Netherlands. For example, the student is assured of a certain standard of the provision of information about the educational offer. On the other hand, the Code of Conduct is intended for the institutions of higher education that have signed the Code. The Code offers clear rules of conduct for, among other things, the duty of care for the international students.
3. What is the general content of the Code of Conduct?
International students benefit from clear information and a clear range of courses on offer. The Code sets conditions for this, for example in the field of the educational offer. In principe, the courses must be accredited by the Dutch Flemish Accreditation Organization. When it comes to English-taught education, the Code also describes minimum requirements regarding the command of English. Furthermore, the maximum duration of prepatory education, that precedes the study program for which the student comes to the Netherlands, is determined. The Code also states that the educational institutions will inform the Immigraion and Naturalization Service (IND) as soon as an international student no longer studies at the educational institution.
4. What is the relation between the Code of Conduct and a residence permit?
Signing the Code of Conduct is a condition for recognized sponsorship for the IND. This is a special position for the educational institutions which enable them to apply for residence permits for international students quickly and efficiently. The Modern Migration Policy Act arranges that signing the Code of Conduct is a precondition for attracting students from outside the EU. In addition, the minimum study progress standard is laid down in de Code. Article 5.5 of the Code stipulates that a student must obtain 50% of the nominal study load in order to retain the residence permit. If the student obtains insufficient credits, and if there is no special, excusable, reason the student will be deregistered from the IND.
5. What is the National Commission?
An independent National Commission is appointed to monitor the compliance of the educational institutions that have signed the Code of Conduct. This Commission consists of five members, which are appointed by the umbrella organizations and an independent chairman. The Commission has the authority to handle petitions that have been submitted based on the provisions of the Code of Conduct. Furthermore, the Commission may take the initiative to launch a research. The Commission can make recommendations and has the authority to take other measures. The most extreme measure is to remove an institution from the Register of the Code of Conduct for the minimum period of one year. As a consequence, the institution cannot attract students from outside the EU as the Immigration and Naturalisation Service stipulated that inclusion in the Register of the Code of Conduct is a precondition for being a recognized sponsor. The secretary and researcher of the Commission are employed by the Education Executive Agency (DUO).
6. Who are the members of the National Commission?
The chairman of the National Commission is independent. On 9 September 2015, Mr Joris van Bergen was appointed chairman of the Commission. As of June 16, 2021, Paul Rullmann is the chairman of the Commission. The members of the Commission are appointed by the umbrella organisations: Ms Susanna Menéndez and Mr Rob Verhofstad on behalf of the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, Mr Ed Brinkman and Mr Frans Snijders on behalf of the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) and Ms Karen Penninga on behalf of the Netherlands Council for Training and Education (NRTO). Deputy members are: Mr Erik van der Berg and Mr Janco Bonnink on behalf of the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, Mr Guido van Leerzem and Tom van Veen on behalf of the UNL and Mr Jan van der Heijden on behalf of the NRTO.
7. How can I submit a complaint and what does the complaints procedure look like?
Any party concerned, believing that a higher education institution has not acted in accordance with the Code of Conduct, can lodge a petition with the National Commission in writing. Prior to lodging a petition with the Commission, the petitioner first must submit the complaint to the competent authority of the higher education institution. If the petitioner is of the opinion that the higher education institution has not settled the complaint properly, he may submit the reason for the complaint and the response received from the higher education institution to the National Commission. More information can be found on the page ‘filing a complaint’.
The National Commission will decide if the complaint is admissible. Preconditions for admissibility are that the complaint regards an international student and that the educational institution’s internal complaints procedure has been completed. After this procedural step the complaint will be processed and the educational institution’s action will be analysed in comparison with the provisions of the Code of Conduct. The National Commission will hear the involved parties and gives the educational institution the possibility to respond to the complaint. The procedure will be completed by sending the National Commission’s decision to the parties involved.
8. Who is the owner of the Code of Conduct?
The Code is a product of self-regulation. Although the government has been one of the key stakeholders from the start, the Code of Conduct is the property of the institutions of higher education as a product of self-regulation.
9. How can the text of the Code of Conduct be revised?
The Code of Conduct is owned by the institutions of higher education in the Netherlands and presented by the umbrella organizations: the UNL, the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences and the NRTO. When a revision of the Code of Conduct is needed, a proposal needs to be discussed with the umbrella organizations and other parties involved.
10. What is the background and history of the Code of Conduct?
The Code of Conduct International Student Higher Education came into effect in May 2006. The State Secretary for the Education at that time, Mr Mark Rutte, called for a formal arrangement of the relationship between higher educational institutions and international students. Between 2004 and 2006 extensive discussions were held between the umbrella organizations of higher education, the ministries of Education, Security and Justice, Economic Affairs, Foreign Affairs and of Social Affairs, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service, the Inspectorate Education, Nuffic and the Education Executive Agency. This resulted in the Code of Conduct in which the relationship between higher educational institutions and international students was regulated.
11. How can I find institutions and study programmes that are suited for international students?
On the website www.studyfinder.nl you can find all Dutch institutions and the programmes they offer to international students. You can find prices and general information on the institutions. These institutions comply with the Code of Conduct. If an institution is not on this list, the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service will not provide a residence permit. Educational institutions have their own rules for admission. They will help you with your admission and your residence permit.
12. What language requirements must an international student meet to study in the Netherlands?
For an English-taught Bachelor’s of Master’s degree, a proficiency in English at a minimum level of 6.0 IELTS is required. Educational institutions may set higher language requirements. In general, it is possible at most educational institutions to go through a prepatory period to eliminate any shortcomings language-wise. For exact information you can contact the educational institution.
13. Where can I get information about immigration procedures?
Please contact the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service for information about your residence permit.
14. Where can I get information about my arrival in the Netherlands?
Information about the preparations can be found on www.studyinholland.nl.
15. Where can I get information about student finance or the student travel product?
Information about student finance and the student travel product can be found on www.duo.nl.
16. Where can I find information about Studielink?
For a higher educational program you need to apply via Studielink. For questions and information you can contact the educational institution of your choice or visit the website of Studielink.
17. Where can I find information about scholarships of fellowships?
You can find more information about scholarships in the Netherlands www.studyinholland.nl. You can also contact the institution you would like to attend. The institution will help you. The Education Executive Agency (DUO) is a Dutch governmental organization, responsible for – among other things – the payment of study grants to students. You can find more information on their website or by phone: +31 (0)50-5997755.