External complaints - Flanders

Complaints relating to the conduct of NVAO employees (including panel members) that took place during Flemish assessment procedures are covered by specific Flemish regulations. 

Regulatory framework

For complaint handling within assessment procedures in the Flemish quality assurance system, we follow the agreements and rules for complaint management of the Flemish government as laid down in chapter 5 of the Administrative Decree of December 7, 2018. More specifically, it concerns complaints that relate to matters that take place during the assessment process.

The complaints are based on the following passage included in each assessment framework:

If, during the assessment process, matters arise that could impact the independence of the assessment, stakeholders such as panel members, process coordinators, secretaries, staff of the institution, or students, may report such matters to NVAO via the complaints procedure available on the website.

Complaints handling

General provisions

Everyone has the right to complain free of charge. 

The complaint must be submitted in writing to the contact adress flanders@nvao.net


A complaint is admissible when: 

  1. the name and address of the complainant are known;
  2. the complaint contains a description of the facts against which it is directed.

The NVAO is not obliged to treat the complaint when:

  1. the complainant cannot demonstrate an interest;
  2. the complaint is manifestly unfounded;
  3. the complaint is manifestly unreasonable;
  4. the complaint relates to facts:

  • about which the complainant had previously submitted a complaint that was handled in accordance with the applicable decree;
  • which took place more than one year prior to the filing of the complaint;
  • about which all organised administrative appeals have not been used or about which a jurisdictional appeal is pending.

If the complaint is not dealt with, the NVAO will inform the complainant within ten calendar days after receiving the complaint. The decision not to deal with a complaint will be motivated. 

The submission of the complaint is considered as permission for the NVAO to process the data within the framework of the complaint handling, more specifically to disclose the name of the complainant and the subject of the complaint to the person(s) against whom the complaint is directed, unless the complainant opposes this.

The NVAO shall acknowledge receipt of the admissible written complaint in writing within ten calendar days of receiving the complaint, if it has not dealt with the complaint within that period. 

Complaint handler

The complaint is dealt with by the Director Flanders of the NVAO, who, as a complaints handler, observes strict neutrality. 

It is forbidden for the complaints handler to disclose facts, the disclosure of which could harm the complainant or the NVAO. 


The complaints handler assesses whether it is appropriate to organise mediation between the complainant and the persons involved in the facts to which the complaint relates, with the complaints handler acting as mediator. 

Within a period of ten calendar days, the complainant must reply as to whether or not he makes use of the mediation opportunity offered. If the complainant does not reply within this period, it is assumed that he or she renounces mediation. 


The complaints handler shall deal with the complaint within forty-five calendar days of receiving it. 

In exceptional circumstances, this period may be extended once up to a maximum of ninety calendar days. In this case, the parties shall be informed in writing of the extension of the period and the reasons for it, before the original period of forty-five calendar days has expired.

The NVAO's complaints handler shall inform the complainant in writing of the findings of the investigation of the complaint, its opinion thereon and any conclusions or initiatives it may draw.

If the mediation results in a joint conclusion that leads to the complaint being satisfied, such notification is not necessary. 

Additional complaint option

If another complaint can be submitted to the Flemish Office of the Ombudsman, in accordance with the Decree of 7 July 1998, or to any other second-line facility, this will be reported at the time of notification.

In accordance with the Decree of 7 July 1998 establishing the Flemish Office of the Ombudsman, the complainant can submit a complaint to the Flemish Office of the Ombudsman:
  1. against the decision of the NVAO not to deal with the complaint;
  2. if the NVAO does not deal with the complaint within the period of forty-five calendar days or the extended period of ninety calendar days;
  3. if the complainant considers that the response of the NVAO does not sufficiently address his complaint. 


Before February 10 of each year, the NVAO submits a written report to the Flemish Ombudsman on the complaints received and on the outcome of the investigation into these complaints.