Dutch humanities degrees under fire: 13% not up to scratch

More than 13% of the 2012 humanities degree courses offered at Dutch universities are of poor quality, according to the accreditation bureau NVAO, which certifies standards on behalf of the Dutch and Belgian governments.

Just 10% of the courses were classed as good and the rest as ‘sufficient’, the Volkskrant says on Tuesday. Maastricht tops the list with six out of seven courses not up to scratch, including its European studies, cultural studies and media studies degrees.

Utrecht, Amsterdam and Groningen each have four failing degrees, Amsterdam’s VU has three and Leiden two, including its English language and culture degree.


All the institutions have submitted a recovery plan to the NVAO and have two years to get their courses up to the required levels. If they fail to make the grade by then, the courses will be closed down.

NVAO chairman Anne Vlierman told the Volkskrant the large number of failing courses was worrying and the poor quality of final theses of particular concern.  Researchers have seen many papers which had been graded six but which should have been failed,’ he told the paper.

Some 6,000 new students start a humanities degree every year and some 30,000 are currently studying the subjects.

All Dutch degree courses are assessed by the NVAO once every six years. According to the Volkskrant, this is the first time the organisation has gone public with the results.

Check your humanities degree here

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