About the Acceleration Plan

About the Acceleration Plan

Opportunities for higher education

The penetration of IT into society is going faster and deeper. The possibilities that IT offers are growing at an unprecedented rate. This has major consequences for how people live, work and learn. Nobody can predict how digitisation will have changed higher education in ten years, but we know for sure that digitisation will have a major impact.

We have every reason to invest heavily in the use of technology in order to accelerate educational innovation in higher education in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a compact, highly developed and well-organised country with excellent physical and digital infrastructures. This special combination of characteristics gives our country the unique opportunity to be an international front runner when it comes to educational innovation.


All educational institutions in the Netherlands will make (substantial) investments in digitisation and educational innovation in the coming years, and will encounter difficult issues in this. Higher education is faced with the challenge of taking advantage of the opportunities that digital technology offers:

  1. Technology can contribute to the realisation of more accessible and tailor-made education, and can therefore lead to fewer dropouts and better study results;
  2. Students ask for more flexibility in education, for an optimal combination of study, work and life;
  3. Students live digitally and also expect this in education;
  4. The content of professions changes at lightning speed. Existing professions disappear and new ones arise.

In addition, higher education must cope with the risks and threats posed by digitisation:

  1. Globally, technology in higher education is leading to major shifts. Private providers of online education and EdTech companies find their own place in the higher education market;
  2. The use of study data offers great opportunities for tailor-made study counseling, but also raises privacy and security issues;
  3. The large range of applications requires a management of choices and interoperability.

Three ambitions

The Acceleration Plan recognises that digitisation offers great opportunities for higher education in the Netherlands and that it can contribute to the quality of education. The mission of the Acceleration Plan is to create space within the institutions and in collaboration with other universities and colleges to take substantial steps in the field of digitisation in higher education.

The Acceleration Plan marks the step that Dutch universities, colleges and SURF are taking together to join forces and realise ambitions at an accelerated pace. The four-year programme runs from 2019 to 2022 and is based on three ambitions:

  • Improving the connection to the labour market;
  • Stimulating the flexibility of education;
  • Smarter and better learning with technology.

The Acceleration Plan also strengthens the position of Dutch higher education in an international context when it comes to educational innovation with technology. Especially the national cooperation that characterises the Acceleration Plan is unique in an international context.

With the three ambitions, the Acceleration Plan works on Dutch leadership in educational innovation and educational innovation with technology. In addition, the Acceleration Plan puts the Netherlands on the international map as a leader in educational innovation where unique national cooperation between higher education institutions has been achieved.

Acceleration zones

Eight zones

The Acceleration Plan focuses on bringing initiatives, knowledge, and experiences together and getting started on themes, quickly and concretely. The themes raise opportunities for synergy and for higher education. We follow a “scrum” approach: we know which way we want to go and we have set a number of main goals, but the way in which we get there is not determined beforehand. The Acceleration Plan provides a platform on which initiatives can be shared and promoted.

The Acceleration Plan consists of eight Acceleration Zones, in which 39 universities and universities of applied sciences collaborate. Each acceleration zone has a team consisting of representatives from the participating institutions, lead by one or two team leads and supported by a connector, linking the zone to the other acceleration zones.

Eight acceleration zones

Facilitating professional development for lecturers

Making continuous improvement of education self-evident

This zone focuses on the pivot of educational innovation: the lecturer. How can lecturers be supported in a meaningful way with knowledge, skills and facilities to make optimal use of the possibilities of IT in education?

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Better connection to the job market

Meeting the needs of the digital transformation

Productive cooperation between the professional field, education, and research in the field of digitisation is central to this zone. An “open collective circle”, in which the team closely cooperates with input from outside, is characteristic to their approach. This way, we want to ensure that higher education and the labour market are optimally aligned with each other.

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Making education more flexible

A more flexible system for students

Flexibilisation is a multidisciplinary issue that includes educational, organisational and technological aspects. This zone is taking an integral approach to flexible education, based on four student journeys. Each participating institution chooses its own focus, keeping with its own dynamics.

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Towards digital (open) educational resources

Determining and using the optimal mix of educational resources

The team of this zone has the ambition to ensure that in 2023, teachers and students have the opportunity to use an optimal mix of educational resources for learning and educational processes. The team explores what is needed to realise that ambition and is working on concrete solutions for lectureres and students who want to get started on this.

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Secure and reliable use of education data

Common language to talk about education data

The zone Secure and reliable use of education data works on creating the right preconditions for analysing education data. They look at the steps required to make analyses safe, reliable and valid, but also at organisational preconditions – such as strategy, privacy and HR – and at possibilities for analyses at a national level.

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Evidence-informed educational innovation with ICT

Easier exchange of knowledge

This Evidence-informed team strives to strengthen the knowledge infrastructure for knowledge on educational innovation with ICT to make sure this knowledge is used and accumulated by lecturers, educational support staff and researchers.

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Accelerating educational innovation with EdTech

The Netherlands as front runner in educational technology

Developments in the EdTech (Educational Technology) sector can make good contributions to accelerating educational innovation. Currently, there are many barriers for EdTech companies, such as complex laws and regulations, lack of standardisation and risk aversion in institutions. As a result, real educational innovation with EdTech remains fragmented and often lacks alignment with the needs and expectations of students and lecturers. The EdTech zone wants to change this situation and make the Netherlands a fertile breeding ground for (starting) EdTech companies.

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Heading towards acceleration together

Creating support for educational innovation

The initiatives of the acceleration plan contribute to the transition of Dutch higher education to a higher education that seizes the opportunities of digitisation. This transition requires a dialogue between boards of institutions, the Ministry of Education, NVAO, NWO, KNAW, NRO and other stakeholders in higher education. This zone, which consists of sixteen board members from various colleges and universities, is working on this.

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