Dutch universities and colleges are to be awarded hallmarks of approval under a new system designed to make higher education more competitive and to raise academic standards.
An independent body will be set up to certify that colleges and universities comply with specified standards of education.
Titles and certificates as well as funding will be awarded only if they do so.
Each institution awarded a hallmark will be subject to inspection every five years before renewal. The Dutch government has announced that the scheme will come into effect at the beginning of 2002.
The ministry of education said that the new system would not replace the current inspection scheme, but would be run in addition to it.
Independent inspectors will visit universities to ensure that standards in education are maintained and, where necessary, improved.
The ministry believes that hallmarking will make Dutch universities more internationally competitive. The scheme will also make it possible for foreign organisations to visit Holland to inspect colleges and universities.
Recently, the University of Amsterdam came under fire from students and education inspectors over the poor quality of its course in communication studies.
So far, students and staff are said to have welcomed the new scheme. They hope that a thorough inspection, followed by an overall assessment of the institution's academic and teaching standards, will ensure that each department is judged on its own merit.