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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 ICLON. 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. The ICLON also offers a number of course modules to support teacher professionalisation. Finally, the University organises regular teaching sessions.

University Teaching Qualification (BKO)

1 October 2017

The Faculty of Humanities is committed to excellence in teaching by qualified and experienced lecturers. The Faculty therefore encourages all lecturers to pursue the professionalization of their teaching skills. The first step in this process is the University Teaching Qualification (‘Basis Kwalificatie Onderwijs’ or BKO). The BKO is evidence of the academic teaching proficiency of lecturers. In order to gain a BKO certificate, a lecturer must fulfil a number of final attainment levels, and provide evidence of his or her teaching skills based on the BKO dossier.

As of 1 January 2008, the Faculty requires all lecturers to hold or be prepared to obtain a BKO certificate. The BKO certificate is recognised by all universities in the Netherlands.

BKO procedure

The first step for all BKO candidates is an intake interview with the secretary. You will be contacted by the P&O department in the first month of your appointment or earlier, and asked to join an intake interview. During the intake interview, the steps you need to take to obtain the BKO certificate will be explained.

To apply for the BKO, you should first prepare an action plan, which you should discuss with your supervisor (or BKO mentor) and submit the action plan within the first two months of your appointment. This plan should include a number of elements: personal information, relevant teaching certificates, information on courses and/or training programs followed in the field of teaching, as well as academic teaching experience and planned courses to be taught in the coming years. This plan should be submitted to the secretary, for approval by the BKO committee.

Intake form

As part of the BKO certification, lecturers are required to follow at least two training courses on teaching practice. The ICLON Testing and Assessment course is a required course you must take in order to obtain the BKO. You should choose the second course in consultation with your supervisor and institute. The costs of these training courses will be covered by the institute.

Based on the approved action plan, the lecturer compiles a BKO portfolio. The BKO committee uses the BKO portfolio to assess applications for the BKO certification. In assessing BKO portfolios, the committee focuses on five elements: a reflective report, extent of teaching experience, diversity in modes of instruction, teaching observation and evaluation, and the ability to develop and teach independently.

The candidate sends a complete BKO portfolio to the secretary as a PDF no later than 10 working days before the next meeting of the BKO committee.

A typical BKO portfolio normally contains the following:

For instructors, lecturers, senior lecturers and professors

  1. A self-reflective report by the candidate on his/her teaching activities.
  2. A description of 4 different courses taught at Leiden University (this should not include thesis seminars or supervision), including
    - At least 1 lecture course, developed and primarily taught by the candidate
    - 2 seminars developed and taught in their entirety by the candidate.
    In addition to the four courses taught at Leiden University, examples of BA/MA theses supervised by the candidate should be provided.
  3. Course evaluations for the courses listed under (b).
  4. An observation form which assesses a lecture or seminar session, written by the candidate’s supervisor or another experienced instructor. The observer submits the observation form directly to the secretary.
  5. Certificates which demonstrate the completion of the ICLON Testing and Assessment training course and one other didactic training course.
  6. If applicable, a Basic Qualification in English Language Skills Certificate (BKE)*.
    Any other available certificates related to teaching.

For staff members with an instructor profile level 4, including teaching assistants and language instructors

  1. A self-reflective report by the candidate’s on his/her teaching activities.
  2. A description of four different classes or seminars taught at Leiden University (this should not include thesis seminars or supervision).
  3. Course evaluations for the courses listed under (b).
  4. An observation form which assesses a lecture or seminar session, written by the candidate’s supervisor or another experienced instructor. The observer submits the observation form directly to the secretary.
  5. Certificates which demonstrate the completion of the ICLON Testing and Assessment training course and the ICLON Supervising Tutorials training course or a comparable training course offered at another training institute.
  6. If applicable, a Basic Qualification in English Language Skills certificate (BKE)*.
  7. Any other available certificates related to teaching.

Teaching assistants and language instructors are issued with a University Teaching Qualification certificate specifying their position as teaching assistants or language instructors.

*Basic Qualification in English Language Skills
In accordance with the final attainment levels of the University Teaching Qualification, lecturers who teach or are planning to teach in English are required to be proficient in English at level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The Basic Qualification in English Language Skills test is carried out by the Academic Language Centre.

In principle, all lecturers teaching in English are required to possess a Basic Qualification in English Language Skills certificate, unless it is apparent from their passport or CV that they already possess this level. The BKO committee will assess this aspect based on the BKO portfolio.

Skills teachers (‘Vaardigheidsdocenten’)

Staff members with the UFO profile ‘vaardigheidsdocent’ (skills teacher) (for example at the Academic Language Centre) who teach both regular language courses and curricular courses, also have the opportunity to pursue a BKO. They are expected to meet the criteria for level 4 instructors. Course evaluations of courses taught by these candidates consist of questionnaires on a five-point scale.

PhD students

In view of the limited time available to PhD students for acquiring teaching experience within their PhD appointment, it is not possible for PhD students to complete a full BKO track, except in exceptional cases. In the context of the PhD career policy, the Faculty Board considers it important that PhD students also be given the opportunity to develop their teaching skills. For this reason the Executive Board has decided to offer PhD students the opportunity to complete a teaching certificate that covers some elements of the BKO final attainment levels. PhD students who have completed this certificate are offered recognition that they have partially completed the BKO track. The Executive Board still has to develop this university-wide teaching qualification. As soon as we have more information on this matter, we will publish it here.

On the basis of the BKO portfolio submitted by the candidate, the BKO committee assesses whether the candidate fulfils the BKO final attainment levels. If the assessment committee considers the BKO portfolio to be insufficient, they will indicate those areas where the candidate still has to improve, and will keep the portfolio until the candidate fulfils the criteria in question. In case of a positive assessment, the Committee will award the candidate a BKO certificate. This certificate is signed by the Vice-Rector Magnificus and the Dean of the Faculty.

In addition, the Assessment Committee also evaluates BKO portfolios of candidates who teach at the Faculty of Humanities but are appointed elsewhere, on condition that these candidates have not already obtained a BKO certificate from another organisation.

Exemptions

Based on a comparison between an international teaching certificate with final attainment levels equivalent to those of the BKO, and following assessment of the candidate’s action plan, the BKO committee determines how extensive the candidate’s BKO portfolio should be and what courses the candidate may have to follow. In any case, the candidate will always require teaching experience and evaluations from courses taught at Leiden University in order to qualify for a BKO certificate.

Members of the BKO Assessment Committee

Dates meeting BKO Assessment Committee

  • 16 April 2019
  • 17 June 2019

Contact person Faculty of Humanities

The Secretary of the Assessment Committee for the Basic Teaching Qualification is I.G.J. Janssen. You can contact her if you have any questions about the procedure and to discuss any assistance you may need.

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