Universities warned not to neglect degree courses for research

Dutch universities need to make strenuous efforts to ensure their degree courses remain up to scratch, the body in charge of assessing standards said on Friday.

In the first six months of this year, 28 Dutch university courses and four hbo college degrees failed to meet the proper standards, said accreditation bureau NVAO, which acts on behalf of the Dutch and Belgian governments.

This is the same number of failing courses as in 2013 as a whole, the NVAO said. Most of the 313 courses which were inspected in the first six months of this year were in the humanities, including culture, language and history degrees.


Universities need to make ‘considerable effort’ to ensure educational standards do not slip because of the strong focus on actual research, chairman Anne Flierman said in a statement. ‘Universities need to pay more attention to the quality of their education,’ Flierman said.

Dutch research is of a very high standard but universities need to ensure they cover the complete field. ‘Students, who will soon have to invest a lot in their degrees, have the right to expect that from their university as well,’ he said.

In June, the Volkskrant reported that more than 13% of the humanities degree courses offered at Dutch universities are of poor quality. Just 10% of the courses were classed as good and the rest as ‘sufficient’.

Maastricht topped the list with six out of seven courses not up to scratch, including its European studies, cultural studies and media studies degrees.

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