Examination Boards (EB's) provide the guarantee to the students, society, stakeholders and supervisory bodies, that the graduates have satisfied the requirements for the award of a degree of a specific study programme. It is their role and task to assess and decide, objectively and professionally, whether a student meets the conditions laid down in the EER with regard to the knowledge, insight and skills required to obtain that degree. A diploma (in the Dutch WHW statutorily referred to as: "getuigschift") is issued by the EB, after the Executive Board or dean has declared that the procedural requirements for the issue have been met.
To provide the guarantee, EB's have to monitor the quality of the examination process and the quality of exams. To that end the Examinations Board is by law - the Dutch Higher Education and Research Act (WHW, chapter 7) - entrusted with some specific tasks and powers, while operating within the framework set by the Education and Examination Regulations (Dutch: Onderwijs- en Examenregeling; OER) drawn up for a degree programme.
Tasks and jurisdiction of the examination boards:
NB. For the sake of clarity, the points below are translated and are not a 100% literally reproduction and are not in the exact order as depicted in the Dutch WHW. For an overview of the relevant legal articles, see <here> or on the site of the goverment [WHW]. Both are only available in Dutch.
- To determine, in an objective and expert manner, if a student meets the requirements set down in the EER with regard to the knowledge, insight and skills reuired for obtaining a degree;
- To safeguarding the quality of exams and final examinations;
- To safeguard the quality of the organization and the procedures of assessment (NB. The dean - and in reality usually the programme director - is responsible for the practical organization of assessments and examinations).
- Establishing guidelines and instructions within the framework of the EER as the basis for assessing and grading for interim and final examinations;
- To assign examiners to conduct exams and determine the results thereof (the examiners provide the examination board with the requested information);
- To grant exemptions for students (on request) from taking one or more exams;
- To assess cases in which there is a suspicion of fraud and to if fraud has occurred to take measures;
- The EB lays down rules on the execution of the tasks and powers referred to in (2), (4), (6) and (7) and on the measures that it can take in this respect. The EB may decide, under conditions to be set by the EB, that not every examination needs to have been passed in order to establish that the examination has been passed.
- To award degree certificates and related diploma supplements, as proof that a final examination was passed;
- To grant permission for a student to follow a flexible study programme, for which the final examination leads to the award of a degree; the EB shall also indicate to which programme of the institution that flexible programme is deemed to belong;
- To issue transcripts for successfully completed examinations to students who have successfully taken more than one examination, but to whom a degree certificate cannot be issued;
- To draw up an annual report of the activities of the EB and to provide the report to the dean. To provide advice to the Dean concerning the EER.
Some special tasks and conditions:
- In the WHW / Act it is not officially specified, but it can be seen inherent to the tasks and role of an examination board: dealing with any complaints concerning interim and final examinations submitted by students. What the law does say about the matter: If a student submits a request or a complaint to the Examination Board involving an examiner who is a member of the Examination Board, the examiner concerned will not take part in the processing of the request or complaint.
- Special articles: Article 7.10 (1) states: Each assessment ("tentamen") includes an investigation into the knowledge, insight and skills of the examinee, as well as the judgement of the results of that investigation. Article 7.10 (2) states: If the assessments of the units of study belonging to a study programme or to the propaedeutic phase of a Bachelor's programme, have been passed, the examination has been taken, insofar as the examination board has not determined that the examination also includes an investigation to be carried out by the board of examiners itself.
- EB's may be asked (and this seems advisable anyway, but especially with regard to some provisions) by the dean or programme director to provide advice regarding the EER. The role of the EB is specially mentioned in the WHW regarding some provisions which should be specified in the EER (OER): (k)...where necessary, the period of validity of successful examinations, whereby the examination board is authorised to extend this period of validity; (l)...whether the examinations are taken orally, in writing or in any other way, whereby the examination board in special cases may determine otherwise; (n)...the public nature of examinations to be taken orally, whereby the examination board in special cases may stipulate otherwise; (r)...the grounds on which the Examining Board may grant an exemption from the taking of one or more exams on the basis of previous successful completed exams or examinations in higher education, or on the basis of knowledge or skills acquired outside higher education; (t)...where necessary, the obligation to participate in practical exercises in order to be allowed to take the examination in question, whereby the power of the board of examiners applies to grant an exemption from this obligation, with or without the imposition of alternative requirements.
- Given the nature of the all the tasks mentioned and the role and position of the EB, good communication, accurate administration, archiving and confidentiality will be important aspects in the performance of these tasks.
EB's are allowed and may mandate some tasks to staff members of the programme or committees. If this is the case, it is important that it is clearly set down in the Rules & Guidelines of the EB to whom the tasks are mandated and what responsibilities are covered by the mandate and under what conditions.
The way in which the EB's fulfil their tasks, plays an important role in the NVAO-accreditations. This applies both to the accreditation at programme level and with regard to the upcoming institutional audit (2019, see the UT ITK-site).
To check whether you, as EB, fulfill the tasks as expected, you can use this short quickscan-checklist. This checklist was prepared for and presented in one of the meetings of the UT Chamber of EB chairs.