‘Students duped by complex institutions’

‘Students duped by complex institutions’



Universities and universities of applied sciences are a legal jumble of legal entities, says the Inspectorate of Education in its report (in Dutch) Verwarring in Veelvoud (confusion in multitude). Even lawyers are getting lost. This is ultimately to the detriment of students and staff. The inspectorate finds that ‘current practice calls for thorough thinking through of laws and regulations’.


The report begins with an example of students who found their tuition fees too high. They went to the civil court with their lawyer, but it should have been the administrative court. As a result, they were left empty-handed.


Almost all institutions have a unique legal organisation, says the inspectorate, with multiple legal entities all subject to different rules. Sometimes there are unequal working conditions between employees ‘working for the same educational institution but under different legal entities’, the inspectorate said.


There is no wilfulness behind the complicated constructions, the inspectorate stresses. The cause is government policy, ‘for example around private activities by funded educational institutions. You need different legal forms for that, while the name on the facade is the same.


The complex legal organisation of institutions hinders effective supervision, the inspectorate says. It also addresses the problem in the report that universities and universities of applied sciences will soon be allowed to completely self-approve the quality of their own programmes. Institutions will, under certain conditions, get government permission to do so. You can guess the problem: what exactly is an ‘institution’ when so many different legal entities are operating under the same label? Who will be getting institution accreditation? (HOP, BB)


Editor in chief Saskia Bonger

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