No "Hamburger U." in NL; new law protects "university," "college"

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Not every institution will be allowed to call itself a "universiteit" or a "hogeschool" in a new initiative proposed by Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker. The ministry proposed a law which more strictly defines names of institutions and awarded degrees, beginning with the restrictive use of the Dutch terms for a university or an applied science university.

The minister proposed the law after several incidents when institutions falsely presented themselves as accredited universities or colleges. In 2013, Alhuraa University in The Hague was fined for fraud and forgery. The institution awarded more than a hundred bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees without appropriate accreditation.

“These organizations abuse the reputation of the Dutch higher education. They require money and time from students for diplomas that are worth nothing,” Bussemaker said. “This must not go unpunished. It has already taken far too long.”

Institutions not accredited as universities or colleges will have to change their name, according to the new law. The exception is adult education centers ("volksuniversiteit" or people's university), which historically bear such names.

The proposed law is published on the government's giving the citizenry until late May to comment on it before it is sent to parliament. Bussemaker hopes that it can be passed around September.

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