The ‘Dutch Approach’ to safety in higher education?

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have a unique ‘open’ character, due to their social assignment, both in physical space and in mentality. This open character is vital to create the optimal setting to learn, teach and research. At the same time HEIs have to offer a safe environment to their students, teachers, researchers and staff. In the Netherlands, this challenge is, since 2010, addressed by the program ‘Safe and Open Higher Education’, a cooperation of HEIs throughout the Netherlands.

This program aims to support HEIs with an integrated approach to security issues by combining expertise, acting in concert, and providing resources, tools and processes to monitor risks and making them manageable in a sustainable way. Often incidents and measures result in the simultaneous existence of multiple management systems for various security aspects within the same institution and no general overview, hindering an approach based on cohesion and synergy. However, different safety & security aspects share common ground and affect one another.

Therefore, the participants in this program have developed an integrated safety & security management system for HEIs can use to help design their security systems with wich board members can carefully weight choises to balance safety and openness.  The manual can be seen as a framework that provides references to practical approaches for various sub-areas where synergy can be achieved via activities including risk analysis, selection of measures, organisation, implementation, documentation, evaluation and reporting. It also contains a questionnaire for self-assessment.


The Safe and Open Higher Education network 

The program is led by a steering committee:
- Ron Bormans, President (President of the board of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)
- Leendert Klaassen (Head of the board of Stenden University of Applied Sciences)
- Marjolein Jansen (Head of the board of Amsterdam VU University)
- Elmer Sterken (Head of the board of Groningen University)
- Ron Minnée (Director for Higher Education and Study Funding, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)
- Ron Massink (Manager Integrated Safety, Delft University of Technology)
- Erik Fledderus (Director SURF)
Secretary: Bastiaan van Vliet, program manager Safe & Open Higher Education
The program has five taskforces that focus on:
- Alarming behavior – presided by Paul Goossens (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)
- Crisis management – presided by Michael Mehrow (Windesheim University of Applied Sciences)
- Governance and Integrity – presided by Beer Franken (Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam)
- Cybersecurity and Privacy – presided by Bart van den Heuvel (Maastricht University)
- Small Universities of Applied Science – presided by Wilma Mossink (Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences).


The HEI’s and organisations listed below are participants of the Safe and Open network. They participate in the taskforces or have a representative in the steering committee: 

- Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam
- Amsterdam University 
- Amsterdam VU University 
Avans University of Applied Sciences 
- Delft University of Technology 
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Fontys of University of Applied Sciences 
Groningen University  
INHolland University of Applied Sciences 
Leiden University 
Maastricht University 
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science 
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences 
Saxion University of Applied Sciences 
Stenden University of Applied Sciences 
- The Hague University of Applied Sciences 
Utrecht University 
Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences 
Windesheim University of Applied Sciences.