Study funds are meant to improve the quality of higher education. Ten percent of these funds are meant for national projects like the City Deal on Education. However, the largest part, ninety percent of the advances of study funds is meant for the investments using the quality agreements. In order to grant this ninety percent of the advances of study funds, the plans of 54 educational institutions (36 universities of applied sciences and 18 universities) are being assessed.

Below, the investments for the quality agreements are explained. The numbers from the national budget of 2020 are used. These numbers differ from the original agreements in the national framework document on the quality agreements.

Table 1: Investments in Quality Agreements (in millions of euros, rounded numbers)




























The table shows a yearly increase in the budget. This is caused by the gradual decrease in costs for the old basic study grant, which means every year, more money can be allocated to the advances of study funds.

Funding in 2019-2021

In 2019, 2020 and 2021, the advances of study funds have been added to the annual budget of institutions (the so-called lump sum). Normally, the educational institutions decide on how to spend the lump sum themselves. However, the advances of study funds must be spent on one of the themes decided on in the sector agreement. On top of that, the participation council has the right to consent to the plan as a part of the outline budget, and the institution should report on these funds in the annual report.

The first two years, 2019 and 2020, have been used to develop a plan for the quality agreements on each institution. In the original agreement, 2021 would be the first year in which the institution would only receive the extra funds if they had their plan checked and approved by the minister of education. However, due to Covid-19, the assessment of the plans had some delays, and this has been delayed to 2022.

Funding in 2022-2024

From 2022 onwards, the ninety percent of the advances of study funds will be distributed annually to institutions that have received a positive decision from the minister on their plans. If an institution has not received a positive decision, even after the one-year recovery period, the funds for 2022-2024 will not be granted. Instead, these funds will be used for national higher education programs, or distributed among the other institutions.

In 2022, an evaluation takes place, in which the NVAO assesses the progress in the implementation of the institution’s plans. They again advise the minister of education. If the minister makes a negative decision on an institution’s progress, a new recovery period of one year starts. During that year, the institution should show the minister that they are catching up in their plan implementation. If the minister decides negatively again, the institution is not granted the increase in funds from 2023 to 2024. So if this happens, the amound of advance of study funds in 2024 will be the same as in 2023.

It has been agreed upon, however, that this process should not be at the expense of the quality of education. Therefore, the part of the funds that is not granted will be used for the Comenius program, which provides grants to excellent teachers.

Local plans

For an individual institution, the extra funds can amount to millions of euros yearly. Because of the extent of these investments, it is important to be clear about what it will be spent on. Therefore, the quality agreements should be explicitly mentioned in the outline of the annual budget, for which the participation council has the right to consent. The annual accounts and annual report also show which funds have been used for the quality agreements, and what the goals for these funds are. Enquire the board or a policy officer if there are obscurities on the budget or the spending within the quality agreements.