Data team objectives

The data team of the VSNU has set three objectives for the period ahead. We would like to ask our members for their help in achieving these objectives.

1. There is one single location where all the relevant information about the universities can be found for the three core functions of education, research and valorisation.

  • Data are available via an open platform and will be made available via an accessible platform in downloadable formats.
  • The quality, validity and reliability of the data are beyond any doubt.
  • There is one single set of standard definitions and metadata about higher education and research.
  • Data constitute a component of the annual Information Agreement with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
  • The sector overview and fact sheets will be updated periodically.

2. Information about the performance of universities facilitates the dialogue between universities and society.

  • All VSNU domains use data to reinforce the position of universities in the public media as well as among politicians and policymakers.
  • Data users and data analysts are encouraged to share analyses via a 'marketplace' for infographics and queries.
  • Universities use the data for discussions with funding agencies, parliamentary debates and media interviews.

3. All relevant parties which produce or utilise data on the performance of universities cooperate closely to foster innovation in the area of higher education data.

  • A national 1c Survey working group will be set up with the task of harmonising definitions and making agreements on the use of and funding from reliable sources for the purpose of national policy.
  • Jointly initiated by the VSNU, a training programme will be developed for higher education data specialists, which supplements and expands on the Tableau training programme.
  • A structural collaboration takes place with the Netherlands Initiative for Educational Research (NRO), in which scientists/researchers make better use of data on higher education and contribute to innovation.
  • The National Cohort Survey will be expanded to include higher education. 
  • A structural collaboration exists with students, employees and their representatives on whom data are collected.
  • The VSNU aims to collaborate with the Data Science research groups and will offer one work placement every six months. 
  • Specific UFO profiles for data specialists will be drawn up.


Sector overview

As part of the Sector Agreement, it was agreed with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in 2018 that the VSNU will present a sector dashboard aimed at increasing data transparency and accessibility. This overview contains a clear representation of the key figures for all universities. Sector overviews have been created for the themes of Education, Research and Valorization, Personnel and Funds (Dutch only). The sector overview contains data which are usually publicly available or are collected by the VSNU. We will continue to develop the overviews. Any suggestions for improvement are always welcome. 


Data accountability

The VSNU uses a broad set of data on higher education for its website. We state the source under each graph, so the data are verifiable and replicable. The most important data sets used by the VSNU are as follows:

  • Education –1cHO file. DUO creates this file and Statistics Netherlands (CBS) processes it into cohort files; 
  • Research – Key Figures for University Research (KUOZ). The VSNU creates this file based on a request for information sent to all universities. It contains key figures on research input, research output and doctoral candidates;
  • Staff – WOPI. The VSNU creates this file based on a request for information sent to all universities. It contains basic data on the number of university employees;
  • Financial – data from DUO and institutions. The funding letters from the Ministry of Education, Research and Culture to the institutions form the main source. We also use open data files from DUO; 

The VSNU Data team works to further improve the collaboration among the various data suppliers. The OECD observed as far back as 2008 that the higher education data landscape in the Netherlands is fragmented. A large number of parties cooperate voluntarily, which works well in practice. In other countries, one agency or one public service is usually responsible for collecting/supplying data. Collaboration is by no means self-evident and the exchange of data is under pressure in view of the GDPR. To this end, new agreements will be made with all parties on the exchange of data. 

Reinout van Brakel

Director Accountability

Petra Pieck

Policy Advisor

Martin Nieuwenhuizen

Data Analyst