An organisation checks and assesses the quality of education. Usually the accreditation is valid for a certain period. In some countries, accreditation is compulsory, in others it is voluntary. The government of a country often appoints one or more organisations responsible for accrediting institutions and/or study programmes. In addition, there are also private accreditation organisations. We only mention and (in the case of diploma evaluations) consult accreditation organisations appointed by the government of that country. Read more about accreditation in the EAR manual.

Bologna process

The process that started after 29 European Ministers of Education signed the Bologna Declaration in 1999, with which they agreed, among other things, to create a European Area for Higher Education (EHEA): “An open space that allows students, graduates, and higher education staff to benefit from unhampered mobility and equitable access to high quality higher education”. This includes setting up a system based on 2 cycles, undergraduate and postgraduate, also known as the bachelor-master structure. In 2003 a 3rd cycle was added for doctoral programmes. The EHEA currently has 48 members.


The official length of the full-time programme (not part-time) without study delay.


Senior general secondary education (hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs, HAVO). A HAVO diploma is awarded upon successful completion of a 5-year programme of general secondary education.


Higher professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO). Dutch higher education distinguishes between research-oriented higher education (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, WO) and higher professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO). HBO is oriented more towards professions in specific areas than WO, and has traditionally been offered at universities of applied sciences (hogescholen).

Intermediate award

An intermediate award or exit award is an interim qualification. Students who are unwilling or unable to complete the entire bachelor's or master's programme can request such an award. Following completion of a portion of the required credits, they will be issued an intermediate award or exit award.


Secondary vocational education (middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, MBO). MBO prepares pupils for the professional practice or further study. This type of education follows on from VMBO; its duration will depend on the chosen qualification. MBO comprises 4 levels (I-IV). Read more on the website of SBB.

Postgraduate programme

A higher education programme after completion of a bachelor’s degree.


The government of a country grants an official status to an educational institution and/or study programme. Usually, if the government recognises an educational institution, all its study programmes are also recognised. However recognition may also be arranged at the programme level. This means that the government must recognizs not only the educational institution, but also its study programmes. We only evaluate diplomas from recognised institutions and recognised study programmes. Read more about recognition in the EAR manual.

Study hours

The amount of time the average student will need to master a specific quantity of course material. This includes both contact hours and the hours spent on independent study. The study hours are expressed in terms of credits.

Undergraduate programme

A programme in the 1st cycle of higher education, such as a bachelor’s degree programme.


Preparatory vocational secondary education – theoretical programme (voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs - theoretische leerweg, VMBO-T). A VMBO-T diploma is awarded upon successful completion of a 4-year programme of vocational secondary education (theoretical programme).


Pre-university education (voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs, VWO). A VWO diploma is awarded upon successful completion of a 6-year programme of pre-university education. VWO is the highest level of general secondary education available in the Netherlands.


Research-oriented higher education (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, WO). Dutch higher education distinguishes between research-oriented higher education (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, WO) and higher professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO). WO is oriented more towards theory and research than HBO, and has traditionally been offered at research universities (universiteiten).