The programme accreditation system covers Associate Degree, Bachelor’s, and (post-graduate) Master’s programmes in the professional higher education and academic higher education sectors in the Netherlands.
With respect to higher education programmes, the accreditation system distinguishes two forms of accreditation: the initial accreditation of new programmes with a maximum validity of six years and the accreditation of existing programmes which is valid for an indefinite period of time.
The point of departure is that all programmes are assessed by an NVAO approved panel of independent experts every six years. Such assessment takes place from a comparative perspective with similar programmes. To this end, all the programmes covered by the accreditation system have been divided into assessment clusters. NVAO sets down the deadline by which these clusters must submit a complete assessment report to NVAO in order to acquire or retain accreditation. The period between two submission deadlines is, in principle, six years; however, exceptions may be made if the division into assessment clusters so requires. The submission deadline is strictly observed. Not keeping the deadline will prompt NVAO to withdraw accreditation.
When applying for accreditation (and in the report submitted to retain accreditation), institutions are required to list all the specialisations, modes of study, locations, and statutory requirements associated with the programme in question. Courses of study that have not been reported are not covered by the accreditation.
Programmes taught by institutions that have passed the institutional audit may be assessed in accordance with the framework for limited programme assessments.
NVAO may impose conditions with respect to both the acquisition and the retention of the accreditation of existing programmes.
NVAO is entering into collaborative agreements with international sector and/or professional organisations in order to combine external assessment and accreditation procedures wherever possible.
For 2024, the NVAO rate for accreditation of existing programmes (accreditation) is EUR 1.000 (the same fee applies for conditional accreditation). The rate for modification of assigned assessment clusters or of professional degrees is EUR 900.
Different rates apply for other or non-standard procedures. The costs of visits abroad, work performed by external experts, advisory work, or work associated with additional requirements will be invoiced additionally.
In the Netherlands and Flanders, the board of an institution may appeal a (draft) NVAO decision.