Higher education in Holland has a worldwide reputation for its high quality. This quality is guaranteed through a national system of regulation and quality assurance.
Twelve Dutch research universities are among the top 200 universities in the world and thirteen are among the best in Europe. This shows that the academic quality of Dutch institutions is well recognised.
Dutch institutions occupy good positions in the top three ranking websites worldwide. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Netherlands is the fourth country with the most institutions in the top 100.
Each autumn the most important international university rankings are published: the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. While it is important to review the methodology of each ranking, the fact that almost all Dutch research universities (14 in total) are represented in the rankings means that the academic level in the Netherlands is very high.
- QS World University Rankings 2015-2016
- Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities 2015
- Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016
The Dutch Higher Education and Research Act states that degree programmes offered by higher education institutions must be evaluated against a specific set of criteria, which assess a programme’s content and level.
Bachelor’s and master’s programmes that meet these criteria are accredited (i.e. officially recognised) by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This accreditation system was set up to guarantee that higher education programmes in the Netherlands meet the highest standards.
You will be awarded a recognised degree only after completing an accredited degree programme.
PhDs and specialised courses
PhD programmes are not accredited by the NVAO but fall under the responsibility of the institutions. This also applies to programmes and courses leading to a certificate or a diploma, including specialised courses.
The quality of specialised courses that are part of an accredited master’s programme is assured through the accreditation of the main programme. The quality of other types of courses falls under the responsibility of the institutions.
The fact that a course is not accredited does not mean that it does not meet certain quality criteria.
Institutions may also offer bachelor’s, master’s or other programmes that have been accredited in another country. In these cases, the degree may be recognised in that country, but not necessarily in Holland.
For example, a master’s programme offered by a Dutch university of applied sciences that has been validated by an accredited British university that awards the degree.
In our Studyfinder database of international programmes and courses a special icon indicates if the programme or course is accredited.
You can find an overview of all NVAO accredited programmes in the Central Register of Higher Education Programmes (CROHO). The overview is only available in Dutch.