Bologna Process

The Bologna Process commenced in 1999. Ever since, the Ministers responsible for higher education of all the countries of the European Higher Education Area (currently 48) meet every other year to collectively make agreements. These agreements are set down in bulletins. The last meeting was held in Paris in May 2018; the next one is scheduled to be held in Rome in 2020.

A significant milestone in terms of quality assurance is the establishment in 2005 of the European Standards and Guidelines for quality assurance, the ESG, which were updated in 2015. The ESG direct the internal quality assurance in place within universities, whereby the institutions themselves are free to substantiate their quality assurance systems. Furthermore, the ESG contain stipulations regarding external quality assurance, which must also be observed by NVAO.

Another important milestone is the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR). This Register lists all the quality assurance agencies whose compliance with the ESG has been established by independent experts. NVAO is one of the first organisations to be included on the Register; it has been listed since 2008. Every five years, the EQAR Register Committee verifies, on the basis of recommendations by an external panel, whether NVAO still conforms to the ESG. Ergo, NVAO assesses programmes and institutions, but is also assessed itself. The assessment frameworks used by NVAO meet the national qualifications framework, which is based on the European Qualifications Framework. 

NVAO has contributed to both the development of the European framework and the establishment of the Dutch and Flemish qualifications frameworks. In 2009, a panel of independent international experts convened by NVAO established that the Dutch and Flemish qualifications frameworks are compatible with the European framework. In 2015, the Ministers of the European Higher Education Area agreed on a European approach specifically for joint programmes being taught by institutions in several European countries.