NQA and Hobéon coordinate criteria for assessments with one another

01-01-2013

Background
Every six years, higher education study programmes must be assessed by an independent audit panel in order to retain NVAO accreditation. The study programmes are assessed on the basis of a number of NVAO standards. In the case of a so-called limited study programme assessment, the audit panel makes use of three standards. For each of these standards, the panel gives a substantiated verdict on a four-point scale: unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good or excellent.

Because the standards cause difference in interpretation and moreover offer no definite answer as to the weighing of sub-aspects within one standard, they are sometimes ambiguous. Assessment of the standards in study programme accreditation reports by different panels using the new accreditation system, may vary widely. NQA and Hobéon, both evaluation bureaus that coordinate the work of audit panels, have recently met to discuss the synchronization of criteria that lead to verdicts like ‘unsatisfactory’, ‘satisfactory’, ‘good’ and ‘excellent’.

NQA en Hobéon expressly regard the listed criteria as guidelines for assessment, not as a checklist. Each panel reaches a verdict per standard based on weighing to what degree a study programme satisfies each standard. The criteria are meant as points of interest for the assessment.

When considering the verdict ‘good’, the panel can take note of the criteria listed below. The summary is not inclusive. Due to topical developments, criteria may be subject to change.

Standard 1
Reasons for the verdict 'good' can for example be one of the following points: a substantiated and proper additional/specific profile; a clear vision of practice-oriented research; a clear vision of internationalization; a committed work field.

Standard 2
Reasons for the verdict 'good' can for example include the following points: an inspiring and motivating learning environment that consistently integrates professional skills and theory both in-school and extramurally; clear attention for research skills and developing an investigative attitude originating from a vision as formulated in standard 1; a well-qualified team of staff who work together closely; a professional field that shows itself to be useful and broadly committed.

Standard 3
Reasons for the verdict ‘good’ can for example include the following points: teachers implement policy for testing and exams, expertly and consistently; the panel’s assessment of the graduate works matches the assessments carried out by the examiner; the standard of the graduate works is above average.

When a study programme still needs to make important improvements regarding the points listed above, the panel will generally give a ‘satisfactory’ verdict .

A study programme that demonstrates itself to be a clear example to others, that offers an innovative, inspiring and original learning environment; whose graduate theses in the opinion of the panel, professional colleagues and the work field are of outstanding quality, deserves the verdict ‘excellent’.