17 November 2016 | EQAF Paper

The ‘soft’ side of quality positive effects of policy change in the Netherlands, a case study

Esther Jonker


In recent years the tone of voice in higher education policy in the Netherlands has changed from advocating tight control and accountability to giving more room to the ‘soft’ side of quality. In trying to address this change, the management of a department at Leiden University of Applied Sciences decided to find out what academic staff and students think about quality in education and how this can contribute to a shared vision on teaching. A study conducted to that end revealed that (still existing) governmental frameworks for quality control do not fit the ideas that staff and students hold on what should be central to teaching and education.

These frameworks sometimes even actively discourage staff and students to give attention to what they think is most valuable. Giving room to the ‘soft’ side of quality, by contrast, turns out to stimulate ownership of and involvement in quality in education by academic staff, students and management.


This paper was presented at EQAF and reflects the views of the named authors only.

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