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Both the Bachelor's and Master's programmes in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam received a final rating of 'Good' in the reaccreditation recently concluded by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This rating means the programmes 'consistently surpass the standard quality level'.

Students in the Biomedical Sciences Bachelor's programme during a lab practical. Photo: Jorn van Eck

Clear vision and position

The Biomedical Sciences programmes at the University of Amsterdam more than meet the applicable academic achievement criteria, according to the assessment panel, which praised the programmes' clear vision and position, and its focus on new biology ('omics'). It also cited as a notable strength the programmes' emphasis on training students to conduct research and develop practical skills, in conjunction with renowned research institutes.

Practical skills and small-scale tuition in the Bachelor's

The panel praised the curriculum's emphasis on practical skills in the Academic Skills learning trajectory, practicals and elsewhere. Despite the large number of students, the programme is organised in small-scale teaching and active learning formats. It also pointed to the work placement, which is an important part of the Bachelor's curriculum and allows students to start building practical research experience at renowned research institutes, which it saw as a very valuable asset on the path to a Master's study.

Quality of the Master's programme

The Master's programme is praised for the high quality of the dissertations; more than 50% result in publication in a renowned scientific journal. Furthermore, graduates of this master's programme are in demand for their creative and independent minds: over 90% of the graduates find a job within a year after graduation.

Assessment procedure

The assessment panel consisted of professors of biological and medical sciences from several Dutch and Belgian universities, an education adviser, professional representatives and a Master's student. They conducted extensive interviews with representatives of the programme management, the Programme Committee and the Examinations Board, lecturing staff, students, alumni and the professional field. The panel also examined several courses and teaching material in detail and read and assessed a number of final projects.

The NVAO scores university programmes on four metrics: stated exit qualifications, educational learning environment, testing and assessment, and actual exit qualifications. Alongside positive ratings for the programmes' position and forms of tuition, the panel also gave high marks for the solid assessment system and the high level of the graduation theses. The NVAO's final ratings are ranged on a scale from unsatisfactory to satisfactory, good and excellent. Reaccreditation is valid for a period of six years.

About the NVAO                    

The Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) was established by the Dutch and Flemish governments as an independent accreditation organisation tasked with providing an expert and objective assessment of the quality of higher education in Flanders and the Netherlands.