Maastricht University takes Flemish government to court

“Maastricht University takes legal action against the Flanders region because there is proof that the Flemish still refuse to automatically acknowledge Dutch Bachelors and Masters degrees. If the Belgian Council of State takes too long to reach a decision or if the UM disagrees, it will take the matter to the European court.” 

Reason to ring the alarm bell is a Masters degree of Flemish student Lotte van Boxem which, after nine months of consideration, still not has been given equal esteem by the Flemish institute NARIC. This has led her to miss out on a job at the Antwerp city council. The procedure NARIC maintains is to have at least two Flemish universities – Maastricht University’s immediate competitors, mind you – confirm that the foreign Master degree is indeed of sufficient level to be accepted by Flemish employers. Shouldn’t the NVAO – the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organ – settle these matters? After all, when a trans-national accreditation committee approves of an educational program, its level should logically be guaranteed. And what about the Bologna-agreement then, which should make all university degrees within this agreement valid within the entire European Union? Has Flanders turned suddenly into educational no man’s land? A very indignant rector Gerard Mols phrased it as: “A real piece of medieval protectionism. Flemish universities that assess our diploma’s! It’s a blatant anachronism! Flanders? Does it still exist? Is it not about time that they focused on Europe and saw what was happening there? It’s absolutely unbelievable.” April 2009, the Belgian University town Leuven will host the Bologna-conference, organized by the countries of the BeNeLux. Dean Rein de Wilde of the faculty of Arts & Social Sciences where the Flemish student obtained her degree points out that it is “totally cynical and unacceptable that the countries that organize this conference do not act in the spirit of Bologna themselves.” The Flemish minister of Education Frank Vandenbroucke wants to develop a system of automatic recognition for foreign degrees. However, he warns, “a number of points of discussions will remain and should be settled by a selection of specialists. It is possible that Dutch diplomas can be considered of equal level based on learning outcomes, but that is a matter we cannot settle today as yet.” Source: Observant 29(4) September 18, 2008. More information can be found on: http://www.observant.unimaas.nl/