This website uses cookies, among others to analyse this website and to make this website more user-friendly. By clicking 'Allow cookies' you give us permission to use these. 

Decline cookies Accept cookies

Institutional review

The institutional review is the periodic assessment of the quality of the educational policy pursued by a university or university college. The assessment is focused on the following components:

  • the institution´s view on the quality of the education it provides, and the policy ensuing from that view;
  • the implementation and realisation of that policy, with attention to optimising the quality of the programmes provided;
  • the evaluation and monitoring of the policy implementation, and the outcomes of policy pursued;
  • the remedial capacity of the institution to adjust its policy wherever necessary and improve the realisation of its policy goals.

The substantiation and advancement of a quality culture occupies a prominent position in all these components.

The institutional review takes an appreciative approach, based on the principle that the context of the institution and the model chosen by the institution (for its educational policy) are the point of departure. The standards contained in the assessment framework are expressly not a point of departure. The assessment is focused on the efficiency of the chosen model rather than its validity. The system thus values the quality assurance efforts expended over the past few decades, and the autonomy the institutions have taken up in this field. (Read more about the appreciative approach)

The point of departure for an institutional review is the critical reflection drawn up by the institution. This document reflects the institution’s view on education and the model it has chosen to realise this view. Its view on quality constitutes an inherent component thereof. This means that the institution’s view on education and its educational policy are the key points of focus; quality is assessed from that perspective.

NVAO sets up administrative consultations with the institution, focused on the institution’s profile and its organisational structure, the composition of the review panel, and the time schedule of the procedure. The institution may provide input which the process coordinator will pass on to the review panel. After receipt and perusal of the institution’s critical self-reflection, the review panel will conduct two site visits. The first site visit is of an exploratory nature, the second is aimed at gaining more profound insight. To that end, three types of review trails are carried out, each with a distinctive character.

The horizontal review trails are focused on a discipline, theme, emphasis, or some other distinctive feature on which the institution profiles. The vertical review trails are focused on the actual implementation of one element of the institution’s view and educational policy within two or more programmes, and therefore pertain to the roll-out of the chosen model. The third type of review trail is focused on the control exerted by the institution over the assurance of the quality of its programmes, substantiated in a pilot.

The quality of the educational policy pursued is assessed on the basis of the Framework for Institutional Reviews – Flanders 2015-2017. The horizontal and vertical review trails are also based on this Framework. In this Framework, the components to be assessed have been translated into four standards: view and policy, policy implementation, evaluation and monitoring, and improvement policy. In the Framework, the institution’s quality culture features as the thread in each component to be assessed.

The institution’s control over its quality assurance is assessed on the basis of the NVAO Quality Code. This Quality Code sets out the general points of departure to be met by this control, and how the institution will be held to account in this respect. On the basis of the view on this control developed by the institution, the review panel will examine the institution’s achievements. It will ascertain what prospects are offered by the view developed and the control exerted, and how these prospects may be optimised. In the context of this assessment, attention will be given to the involvement of stakeholders and peers (which ones, manner in which), the results and outcomes (e.g., link with stakeholders, contribution to quality culture), and the public accessibility of information on the quality of the programmes.


The main documents are presented on the right side of this page.


The rate charged for the institutional review is 42,500 euros. Following the management meetings, the institution will receive an invoice to this amount.

Submitting applications

The institutional review will be conducted following management meeting between the institution and NVAO. No later than six weeks prior to the first site visit, the institution shall forward its critical reflection to NVAO via the email address (max. 30 Mb).

More information

For questions of a general nature, please consult the institutional review FAQs. If you cannot find the answer, please send an email to For specific questions you may contact the NVAO process coordinator in charge of your institutional review.