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University Teaching Qualification (BKO)

Good teaching is a skill in itself. In order to guarantee the quality of education in the Netherlands, the University Teaching Qualification (Basis Kwalificatie Onderwijs, BKO) is now compulsory for all lecturers, university lecturers (UD), senior university lecturers (UHD) and professors. What does this qualification mean for you?

The BKO is a mark of quality used by all Dutch universities. It functions as a reliable frame of reference with respect to your didactic skills. The BKO track consists of a series of modules, allowing lecturers to assess and develop all facets of teaching. At the end of the track, you are awarded a BKO certificate. Once you have completed the BKO certification, you are qualified for all Dutch universities. 

Do I need a BKO?

If you have an appointment for 0.5 FTE or more as lecturer, university lecturer (UD), senior university lecturer (UHD) or professor for one year or longer, you are required to be in possession of a BKO. If you were recently appointed and are not yet in possession of a BKO, you have two years to complete the BKO track. Without BKO you cannot be appointed on a permanent contract or promoted to a higher position. 

Can I teach without a BKO?

If you do not need a BKO and are still required to teach, you are expected to improve your didactic skills. You may begin for instance by following the Starter’s Course in Basic Didactic Skills offered by LLInC. Some faculties have also developed their own courses. For more information, please contact your institute manager. 

What does the BKO track look like? 

The BKO track begins with an interview with your Faculty’s BKO contact person. He or she conducts an intake interview with you on behalf of the Faculty’s assessment committee. Based on your teaching experience, the assessment committee decides which learning outcomes you already meet and which you need to develop further. You have two years to create your portfolio and complete the BKO track. The University can support you in a number of ways. Once your porftolio is complete, it is re-assessed by the committee. If you meet all learning outcomes, you will be awarded a BKO certificate, signed by the Dean of your Faculty and the Vice Rector. 

BKO portfolio

To obtain a BKO certificate, you have to create a portfolio of evidence that you meet the BKO learning outcomes. This portfolio should give the assessment committee a clear idea of your qualities. Your portfolio should in any case include the following: 

  • Student evaluations
  • Your supervisor’s assessment 
  • Reflection on your own development as a teacher
  • Advice from your colleague mentor (if you follow a training programme)

In addition, every Faculty sets additional portfolio requirements. For more information, please contact your BKO contact person. Your portfolio should also demonstrate that you meet the BKO learning outcomes.

What if I teach in English?

If you teach in English you are also required to complete an English Language Proficiency Qualification (Basiskwalificatie Taalvaardigheid Engels, BKE). The required level of English proficiency is C-1. The track consists of a test. If applicable, you will be awarded a separate BKE certificate, which you can include in your BKO portfolio. 

Where can I complete the BKO track?

You can complete the BKO at Leiden University. If you have obtained a BKO certification from another Dutch University, it is also valid. 

Support from Leiden University 

Your BKO contact person can put you into contact with a personal mentor. Leiden Learning & Innovation Centre (LLInC) also offers a number of course modules to support teacher professionalisation. Finally, the University organises regular teaching sessions.

About BKO

The quality of teaching is of central importance to Faculty Governance and Global Affairs in The Hague. One of the ways in which this comes to expression is the Basic Teaching Qualification (or BKO as it is usually referred to). Teaching is a skill that needs to be developed and maintained. The BKO is a certificate that is awarded to university teachers who can demonstrate that they have the basic teaching skills required to teach students at university level. For the attainment levels, click here. In 2008 the Dutch universities have agreed to introduce BKO at all universities and to accept the certificates from other universities as proof of proficiency in teaching.

The BKO is compulsory for all academic staff with an appointment as Docent, UD, UHD or Hoogleraar, and who have an appointment of 0,5 fte or more for a duration of at least one year. The BKO certification is a compulsory requirement for promotion to a higher scale or for a fixed contract.

But BKO is also interesting for those who are not in this target group; the trajectory can be used to develop your teaching skills further or to work on a specific area of didactics.

For more information contact the BKO-secretary 

New exceptions for the English Language Proficiency Qualification (Basiskwalificatie Taalvaardigheid Engels) When lecturers teach in English they are also required to complete an English Language Proficiency Qualification (Basiskwalificatie Taalvaardigheid Engels, BKE). The required level of English proficiency is C1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This remains valid, but with the exemptions described here.



The BKO-procedure should not take more than two years to complete and can in many cases be shorter. Faculty Governance and Global Affairs has two pathways leading to the BKO certification. Both pathways consist of the same three steps, but what needs to be done in each step differs.

1. Intake: the intake with the secretary is the first step for all candidates. During this meeting the previous experience and learning needs of the candidate are discussed and it is decided if the candidate is a new or experienced teacher. In case of doubt, this is discussed in the next committee meeting.

- New teachers: this pathway for those who are new to the teaching profession, or have perhaps taught some courses as teaching assistant, but have never designed or developed their own courses. This pathway will assist and support the development of didactical skills in an individual made to measure programme.

- Experienced teachers: teachers with 3-5 years experience in Higher Education, immediately prior to the application, can qualify for the Experienced Teacher pathway. Experienced teachers can progress to the application file immediately.

2. Development Plan and Application File: After the intake of new teachers, a supervisor is appointed. Together with the supervisor, the candidate writes a development plan, which includes a.o. which courses the candidate will teach, or which didactical courses will be taken. For available courses look here. At the end of the training period, the candidate hands in an application file.

Experienced teachers can proceed to their application file immediately. The format for both application files is discussed in the intake.

3. Assessment: the BKO-committee assesses each application file to determine if the attainment levels have been met. If there is a positive verdict, the Dean of the Faculty will be advised to certify the candidate. A certificate signed by the Vice-Rector Magnificus and the Dean of the Faculty will be handed out to the candidate. If there is a negative verdict, the candidate will be asked to provide more information or take didactical courses. See the flowchart for more information.

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