Changes in higher education legislation

The cabinet has approved a Bill introduced by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker, making changes to higher education legislation. In future, the authorities will be able to take action if non-government-funded institutions that offer accredited (approved) courses make discriminatory statements. Only government-funded institutions fall under the current rules. 

If the board of a non-government-funded institution does not abide by the new rules, it may lose its status and with it its accreditation. Loss of accreditation means students at that institution can no longer receive a degree that is recognised by the ministry. One of the reasons for the new legislation was several offensive remarks made by the rector of the Islamic University of Rotterdam (IUR), including remarks about gay people. The minister could do nothing at the time because the IUR is not government-funded. The new legislation will allow measures to be taken in such cases.

All universities and institutions of higher professional education will also be required to promote responsible citizenship.

The legislation will regulate the use of the terms universiteit (university) and hogeschool (institution of higher professional education), as well as the academic titles of bachelor and master. Educational institutions will no longer be able to pose as recognised institutions and make unauthorised use of these terms. If they do, they risk a maximum fine of €810,000 or 10% of their turnover. It will also be an offence for a person to use the title of bachelor or master if they do not have the appropriate degree, as is already the case with the traditional Dutch academic titles like doctorandus. The maximum penalty is €4,050.

The cabinet has agreed to submit the Bill to the Council of State for an advisory opinion. The texts of the Bill and the advisory opinion will be made public when the Bill is sent to the House of Representatives.