Higher education wants more control over digital teaching material

Higher education institutions are going to collaborate more in the domain of digital teaching materials. Among other things, they want to promote the security and privacy of students and staff.

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The institutions have drafted a ‘Declaration on a national approach to digital and open teaching materials’. They plan to ‘control’ how digital teaching materials and the consequent data flows are created and procured.

The declaration follows years of criticism of the influence wielded by tech companies in higher education. Cybersecurity professors, activists and participation councils had asked for such a step and the university vice-chancellors had already expressed a wish for a concerted approach to the problem.

The institutions are getting support from SURF, the IT organisation for education and research. Huib de Jong, former chair of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, is taking the lead. He says this step is “more important than ever”.


The higher education institutions want to make arrangements with commercial suppliers of teaching materials about the use of data and about the privacy of staff and students. Talks with those suppliers are due to be held later in the year.

They are also working on a communal infrastructure for teaching materials that will allow them to share those materials more efficiently. Previously, 17 administrators were involved in an acceleration plan for IT in higher education and now the rest are taking part as well.

The question is still who will pay for the open teaching materials. “If we pass on the costs to students, we restrict the accessibility of the teaching”, De Jong believes. “But simply passing them on to the institutions isn’t possible because these are costs they cannot afford to pay.”  He plans to discuss the matter with the Ministry of Education.

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