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Wanted: Educational innovations for the Comenius Leadership Fellowship or Dutch Education Award

16 March 2023

Are you or do you know a driven educational innovator with an idea for an ambitious innovation project that will improve the education of students at several faculties or the entire university? Or have you and your team already developed an exceptional educational innovation in recent years that is promising for more faculties or even other institutions? Then submit this educational innovation for internal consideration no later than 11 April to Anna Terra Verhage, policy advisor at SAZ.

The initiatives put forward are collected on a longlist. After a check by the faculties involved, this longlist will be discussed by the rector and the vice-deans at the end of May. Thenthe rector will decide which initiatives from our university will be nominated after the summer for respectively the Dutch Education Award 2024 (for an impactful educational innovation already partly or fully realised in the past 4 years) and possibly* also for the Comenius Leadership Fellowship 2024 (for new innovation projects in which several faculties are or can be involved).

*Please note: our slot to nominate in round 2024 depends on the outcome of the current Comenius Leadership round 2023.


If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Anna Terra Verhage (SAZ) via e-mail (a.t.j.verhage@bb.leidenuniv.nl), telephone (06 48364407) or Teams.

To submit an initiative, please send a brief description of 1-1½ page containing the following information to a.t.j.verhage@bb.leidenuniv.nl no later than 11 April 2023. This may either be a new plan, or an already (partly) realised initiative. Please briefly address the following aspects in the description: 

  • The goal - What problem in current higher education does the innovation help solve? To what extent does it promise/offer demonstrable improvement for students compared to the current situation?
    • If the innovation has already been or is being implemented: To what extent is this goal already being realised? Is there already demonstrable improvement in education or other impact on education?
  • The target group - Who is the innovation aimed at? To whom else might it be relevant within and/or outside our university? 
  • The current status - At what stage is the initiative (e.g. idea-forming, in development, in implementation, already completed, or other)?
    • If the innovation has already been or is being implemented: In what context and on what scale is this happenening (e.g. in which courses/ programmes/ faculties/ institutions) and how many students have been or will be reached?  
  • The method and innovative nature - What does the innovation consist of? In what ways does the initiative bring innovation compared to the prior or present situation in Dutch higher education? How does it differ from related other initiatives elsewhere? 
  • Is the innovation evidence-informed? What theory, model, principles, literature, insights and/or existing relevant initiatives underpin the innovation? And how has it been or can it be evaluated whether the intended improvement is taking place? 
  • The intended development and/or scaling up - In what ways has the initiative already developed and/or scaled up? What would become possible through a Comenius Leadership Fellowship or a Dutch Education Award?  
  • Those involved - Who are the main stakeholders involved so far (names and in some keywords indication of the role in the initiative)? Who are or were the main initiator(s)? Do they have the qualities and experience to take the initiative forward? Who else should become involved to take the innovation further (roles and/or expertise)? Is there or could there be collaboration outside our university? 

Every year the university is invited to nominate two exceptional educational innovations to NRO: one for the Leadership Fellowship of the Comenius programme and one for the Dutch Education Award. In both cases, these are exceptional educational innovations by driven education teams that have the potential or already offer a promising improvement for higher education. Preferably (but not exclusively), these are initiatives that have already been initiated on a small or medium scale and can, through a Comenius Leadership Fellowship or Dutch Education Award, develop further to other faculties, the entire university and/or other higher education institutions in the course of 3-5 years.

We start the inventory of initiatives early in the year - even before the official call and invitation are received. This allows us to start the preparation of the nominations in good time. Thanks to this broad call, initiatives that are promising, yet not widely known, can also be considered. So do not hesitate and submit your educational innovation!

The Comenius programme is an innovation programme for higher education (research universities and universities of applied sciences). It has three types of fellowships: Teaching, Senior and Leadership, which differ in level of innovation, scale and duration of implementation, and the minimum profile of the principal applicant(s). These grants enable teachers to work with a team to put their innovative vision on education into practice in an evidence-informed way. With the Comenius programme, the government wants to recognise and value excellent and inspired teaching. The projects that have been awarded per step in recent years can be found here.  

The Comenius Leadership Fellow programme is intended for leading innovations led by experienced educational innovators (individual or duo). Leadership projects focus on ambitious innovations that involve at least several faculties (or institutions). Leadership fellows receive €500,000 for a project with a duration of 36 to 42 months. When awarded, the lead applicant(s) also join the ComeniusNetwork. Only one proposal may be submitted per university; this selection is made by the rector after discussion with the vice-deans. An application must contribute to the educational vision and strategy of the university. The call for the upcoming round (2024) is expected in June 2023, until then the call of the previous round (2023) offers a preview.

Note that the project submitted by our university in round 2023 is awarded (which of course we hope!), the university may only submit again in round 2025 - in that case suitable initiatives will be kept on the list for consideration next year.

The Dutch Education Award is a relatively new prize. It was introduced by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in 2021 to recognise and reward educational teams from research universities, universities of applied sciences and vocational institutions that have developed an exceptional initiative innovating and improving higher education over the last four years. Every institution may nominate one team. The rector makes this selection after a consideration of qualifying initiatives with the vice-deans. In each sector (mbo, hbo and universities) three prizes are awarded of €1,2 million, €800.000, and €500.000 respectively. The prizes are meant to further stimulate projects that innovate and improve higher education, to be determined jointly by the winning team with the faculty/faculties involved and the rector.

In last year’s call of the current round (2023 - Dutch only) you can find out more about this award. The teams that received awards in 2021 and 2022 can be found here.

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