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Complaints Higher Education


Material mistakes are subject to a flexible procedure, in which the error or mistake is rectified. This procedure must be embedded in the teaching and examination regulations. Irregularities are addressed in two stages. The first stage is an internal appeals procedure. When this is exhausted, you may lodge an external appeal.

You may lodge an external appeal to the Council for disputes regarding study progress decisions if – following an internal appeals procedure – you think that the university has taken a wrongful decision regarding your study progress. The Council may declare your appeal inadmissible and/or disallow it. It may annul a wrongful study progress decision and order any provisional improvement measures if so required. This means that the Council does not take the place of the examinations board.

The Netherlands

Responsibility for the organisation of higher education has been vested with the Dutch universities* themselves. The board of a university sets down teaching and examination regulations specifying the contents of the programme, the associated interim and final examinations, the rights of students, and the possibility of internal appeals.

Following the internal complaints procedure, an external appeal may be lodged with the Higher Education Appeals Board (CBHO). You may lodge an external appeal to CBHO if – following an internal appeals procedure at a university – you think that the university has taken a wrongful decision regarding the tuition or an examination fee; financial support from profiling funds; issues relating to enrolment or deregistration; exemptions by virtue of other diplomas; decentralised selection for programmes subject to an admissions quota; violation of the house rules and disciplinary regulations of the university, or a verdict of the examinations appeals board (CBE) regarding examination matters; admission to Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes, and examination fraud.

*This also applies to institutions on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, as part of the Netherlands as three separate public sector bodies..


For international students enrolled in Dutch higher education, there is an additional complaints procedure based on the Higher Education Code of Conduct.


NVAO does not process any individual complaints and is not a mediator. However, NVAO may receive notifications of potential quality issues in the higher education sector in the Netherlands**.
A notification is incorporated into the dossier of the programme or university, in order to be dealt with in the next accreditation procedure, if needed. If an accreditation procedure is already under way at the time of receipt, such a notification may be taken into account in the assessment, and possibly prompt further examination. If no accreditation procedure is under way, NVAO will deal with the notification as such. Potential actions depend on the urgency and the number of complaints.

NVAO will not deal with anonymous complaints. The submitter’s personal details remain confidential, unless NVAO needs to derogate from this rule, following consultation with the submitter, for the purpose of processing the notification. In principle, NVAO informs the university of the (anonymised) notification, listens to both sides of the argument, and notifies the submitter of the progress of the notification and its conclusions. NVAO may use such notifications to gain a better picture of the programme or university involved.

**This also applies to complaints about institutions/programmes on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, as part of the Netherlands as three separate public sector bodies..

Reporting a complaint: to submit a complaint regarding the quality of higher education to NVAO, please use the online form (see right-hand side of the page).