Code for Good Governance in Dutch Universities

Universities are publicly funded organisations and have a strong connection to Dutch society. This requires transparent and responsible governance, supervision and employee participation. This is why the universities have drawn up a Code for Good Governance.


In 2018, the VSNU established the Committee on the Code for Good Governance in Dutch Universities , which was given the remit to thoroughly revise the existing code in response to the need for a more value-based version that was more compatible with the universities' ambitions. The result of this Committee's efforts is the new Governance Code, which aims to contribute to good governance by encouraging constructive dialogue on university governance. The code does therefore not prescribe specific and detailed courses of action, as this would simply be establishing a checklist rather than facilitating the desired dialogue. Some parts of the code allow room for interpretation, and so invite executives, supervisors and participation bodies to consult each other regarding how they wish to implement the established principles of good governance.

Most important changes

In the new Code, the committee tried to pay more attention to a number of subjects in particular. The new version includes, among other changes, the following amendments to the old code: 

  1. The committee chose to expand the scope of the code. The old code only called executive and supervisory board members to account concerning their responsibilities. The new code also holds the deans and faculty boards accountable, as these parties also play substantial roles regarding university governance, in both a legal and practical sense. 
  2. The new code explicitly pays attention to the importance of an open culture and a safe environment. Both aspects are of great importance to universities, and the duty of executives and supervisors to facilitate these aspects is therefore a vital responsibility. 
  3. The participation bodies have been granted more power in recent years, and the new code therefore pays more attention to them. Well-functioning participation bodies and a good relationship between the executive board and participation bodies are vital to the good governance of universities. 
  4. As universities are increasingly collaborating with other organisations, the importance of solid governance structures for partnerships will only increase in the years to come, which will present a substantial challenge for many universities. This is why the new code has a separate principle devoted to this topic.


When the code of good governance was introduced, it was decided to evaluate it after four years. This review will take place in 2024

Code Goed Bestuur UNL

UNL Code Good Governance English