The Sector Agreement sets out how the funds from student loans will be used. These funds will be invested in educational quality. In consultation with their participation bodies, the universities will make their own Quality Agreements with this respect. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science and the universities have also agreed to work jointly on internationalisation, combating heavy workloads and the impact of research in the years ahead. A key factor for the universities is that the agreement is based on trust and autonomy.
The Sector Agreement includes agreements on the following:
- the application of funds from student loans – due to the introduction of student loans, funds will be released for educational quality with effect from this academic year. The universities themselves may allocate the lion's share of that budget (90%) in consultation with the participation bodies. However, due to earlier cost-cutting measures and efforts to improve efficiency, a net additional budget for academic education will not be available until 2021. Funding from student loans will be used to support small-scale programmes, talent development, student well-being and lecturer professionalisation;
- transparency – In light of their accountability to the public, the universities are developing a sector dashboard that they can use to display key figures on education, research and impact. These reports will provide a broad picture of developments in higher education. The universities are specifically required to report on the status of implementing the quality agreements. A check will also be performed in 2022 on the application of funds from student loans, the results of which will be taken into account by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) in 2024;
- enhancing impact – science exerts a considerable positive influence on society. To enhance and structure this influence, the universities will continue to strengthen the Knowledge Transfer Offices and start-ups. Collaboration on major research themes will also be increased; for example, through the Dutch National Research Agenda (NWA);
- workload – reducing workload is a key priority for the coming years. Among the causes of work pressure is the regulatory burden. To this end, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science will consult with the universities on reducing the administrative burden involved in programme accreditation; for example, by providing institutional accreditation instead;
- internationalisation – the universities and the Minister share the opinion that international perspectives are extremely valuable. In order to help steer this development in the right direction, the VSNU is cooperating with the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH) to draft an internationalisation agenda. The focus areas of the agenda include language, accommodation and outgoing mobility. Alignment with global developments is also in keeping with the position of the Netherlands as a leader in the area of Open Science;
- accessibility – the universities are committed to ensuring accessibility, improving the quality of the selection methods and increasing the transparency of the selection process.