Published On: Thu, Feb 22nd, 2018

Press release University of Curaçao: All courses are accredited by the NVAO

UniversityWILLEMSTAD - The University of Curacao Dr. ir. Moises da Costa Gomez has decided to convene a press conference to clarify the questions asked on the basis of articles that have appeared in the media in recent days (not in Curaçao Chronicle).

Dr. Sharine Isabella, manager of the Department of Quality Assurance, extensively discussed the visitation procedure used by NVAO. This is a complex procedure that takes more than 1 year and consists of several steps.

The assessment framework of the NVAO distinguishes between the accreditation of an existing program and the accreditation of a new program. Isabella first explains the accreditation process of an existing program.

An existing program is a program that has already been accredited by NVAO. An accreditation period applies for 6 years. An existing program is re-assessed every 6 years to maintain the accreditation mark. At the moment that a study program is accredited by NVAO, this information is included on the NVAO website.

To qualify for accreditation, each program must complete a long assessment procedure, which generally lasts longer than 1 year.

A program must have a Self-Evaluation Report (ZER), based on the assessment framework of the NVAO. This assessment framework explains the 11 quality standards that a course must meet. In its ZER, the program describes the state of affairs with regard to these 11 standards. In addition, the program must submit various compulsory documents to substantiate the allegations in its ZER. The ZER together with the underlying documents must be submitted to a Visiting and Assessment Authority (VBI) approximately 2 months before the visitation (location visit). A VBI is an institution that goes to the program on behalf of NVAO and therefore conducts a visitation. Finally, the panel formulates a visitation report containing an advice to NVAO regarding the quality of the training based on the 11 standards in the NVAO assessment framework.

The UoC has chosen 2 VBI's for the assessment of its programs. These are also the VBIs that are used by colleges and universities in the Netherlands and are certified by NVAO. UoC uses the services of NQA for the higher vocational education programs and the QANU for the academic programs.

Depending on the orientation of the degree program (higher professional education or university education), the NQA or the QANU will visit the UoC to assess the program. This means that an assessment panel is set up, which, on the basis of the submitted documents, conducts discussions with various actors involved in the training. This panel consists of independent content experts, educational experts and a secretary working at the NQA or QANU. This panel has been approved by NVAO. Based on the discussions with the program management, lecturers, students, alumni and members of the professional field, together with the submitted documents, the panel decides on the quality of the program. They write this in their visitation report. The procedure at a VBI takes about 3 months before the UoC receives the visitation report with the advice. Subsequently, the Rector Magnificus of the UoC offers this visitation report to the NVAO to give a final opinion. NVAO takes about 6 to 8 months to reach a final assessment since they also have to make a final assessment of the many higher education programs in the Netherlands and Flanders. Adding the months for the different steps together, they will exceed 1 year.

All accredited UoC programs have started the period of reassessment and re-accreditation on time and for many programs, the assessment visit report is now at NVAO.

The same procedure must be followed for a new course. There are 2 small differences. Firstly, the panel that does the visitation is supported by a secretary who works at NVAO and because a new study program has no graduates, no judgment can yet be made about the final projects (the 11th standard). The panel must be confident that the quality of all documents aimed at graduation is in order. That is being assessed. There is, therefore, no question of a lighter visitation with a new course.

Currently, the UoC offers 29 programs and all these programs are accredited, except for 2 new courses. The request for assessment from NVAO is from one of these 2 study programs. The visitation by the panel had a positive result. The second new course is currently in its review process and expects to be accredited within a few months. Here too, it must be taken into account that the visitation procedure takes more than 1 year.

The 2-degree Papiamentu, English, Dutch and Spanish courses have now been re-accredited and this information can be found on the NVAO website. The request for the re-accreditation of most of the other programs is at the NVAO with a positive visitation report from the panel. In the meantime, the UoC has received a letter from NVAO stating that they cannot complete the work on re-accreditation within the established accreditation period for 7 study programs and that they have therefore extended the accreditation period.

So, no UoC training has lost its accreditation. The UoC has itself decided not to restart some courses. Reasons for this include feedback from the professional field that the developments are so rapid that a new training must be offered or the labor market no longer needs graduates of these programs. However, students who are still studying at the current degree programs still graduate with an accreditation mark on their diploma because they have started their study at an accredited degree program. NVAO determines for how long students associated with 1 of these programs may still graduate with an accreditation mark. So, at this moment all students of the UoC graduate with an accreditation mark on their diploma if they have started a study program that has been accredited by the NVAO. Also the students of courses that are no longer offered.

According to the University, all their programs are accredited. All their students graduate with an accreditation mark on their diploma and program has lost its accreditation with NVAO.

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