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Frequently asked questions

1.    Who is the owner of the Code of Conduct?
The Code of Conduct is the result of self-regulation. Although the Dutch government has been one of the most important stakeholders since the start, the Code of Conduct is the product of self-regulation and is ‘owned’ by the higher educational institutions. By signing the Code of Conduct, the institutions guarantee a certain uniformity in the quality of information and care for international students. It is important for international students that they receive clear and sufficient information about the education that is offered and that their rights are protected. For example, the Code of Conduct contains minimum (language) requirements for admission of international students and also for the maximum duration of the preparatory period. During this preparatory period the student can improve his or her English language proficiency become familiar with the Dutch language and culture or improve other competences which are necessary with regard to the education programme. The Code of Conduct also contains provisions on the quality of educational programs which are offered to international students: institutions can only offer duly accredited degree education as meant in the Dutch education act WHW. Furthermore, education can be offered based on the law of other countries, if it has been accredited by an accreditation organization in the higher education area of which the decisions are being recognized by the relevant authorities. Furthermore, the Code of Conduct stipulates that institutions must inform the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) when an international student no longer follows its educational programme.

2. What are 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.

3. How can I initiate a revision in the text of the Code of Conduct?
The Code of Conduct is owned by the institutions of higher education in the Netherlands and presented by the umbrella organizations: the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences and the Netherlands Council for Training and Education (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.

4. 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).

5. Who are the members of the National Commission?
The chairman of the National Commission is independent. Until 1 December 2014 this position was held by Mr Roel Fernhout, former National Ombudsman. On 9 September 2015, Mr Joris van Bergen was appointed chairman of the Commission. Mr Van Bergen is a former member of the board of the Technical University Eindhoven and the University of Leiden and the former chairman of Surf. The members of the Commission are: Ms Susanna Menendez and Mr Rob Verhofstad on behalf of the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, Mr Paul Rullmann and Ms Karen Ali on behalf of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and Mr Jan-Albert Dop on behalf of the Netherlands Council for Training and Education (NRTO). Deputy members are: Mr Joep Houterman and Mr Janco Bonnink on behalf of the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, Mr Frans Snijders on behalf of the VSNU and Mr Jan van der Heijden on behalf of the NRTO.

6. 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.
First 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.

7. What is the relation between the Code of Conduct and a residence permit?
Only educational institutions which are included in the Register of the Code of Conduct are eligible for being a recognized sponsor according to Immigration and Naturalisation Service. The Modern Migration Policy Act arranges that signing the Code of Conduct is a precondition for attracting students from outside the EU.

8. Where can I get information about immigration procedures?
Please contact the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service for information about your residence permit.

9. 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. You can also find institutions here. 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.

10. Where can I find information about scholarships of fellowships?
You can find more information about scholarships in the Netherlands on Grantfinder, Study in Holland or New to Holland. 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.

11. 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.