Higher Education Advisory Service


Netherlands Senior Educators Programme, NeSEP  


In many countries in Asia professors who reach the age for retirement do retire, but are allowed to continue working in their university without receiving benefits. They are offered a place to work and they can do research or guide PhD students. They are respected. 

Confucius said,"Give me a few more years to learn at the age of fifty, and I will be unlikely to have major faults."

  It is in these countries, where knowledge of elder persons is valued, and this is the basis of the Netherlands Senior Educators Programme. In the Netherlands, university and government staff often retire before the age of sixty, after that they say goodbye to their institution and leave, taking all their knowledge and skills with them.  In most cases they are not even allowed to continue working as they might take the place of other workers, which is against the wish of the labour unions. This programme wants to make use of knowledge and skills of experts at an age they are happy to share this knowledge. They do not strive for career opportunities, they are at their top and do not need laurels anymore.   


It is at the HE institutions were the future leaders of the country are trained and for that reason some of the colonial powers did not pay much attention to universities. Many university teachers practice the old fashioned chalk and talk training. Curricula are centrally developed and the lecturers have no say in the content of these curricula. University graduates have problems to find jobs as they are not equipped with the knowledge and skills they need.Students are well-trained as far as theory but the practical side is often completely lacking.

Companies are not willing to allow the students for internships as they do not know what to do with the students. It has become a vicious circle only when students are trained to carry out activities in enterprises they will be welcome. And only then they are able to understand what an enterprise is and how it is operated.Lecturers do feel secure in their classroom with their piece of chalk, or nowadays with their PowerPoint presentations. But on their PowerPoints they write the same as they did on the blackboard, is this progress? 

In Viet Nam, Netherlands university experts assisted Vietnamese universities and university staff to break through this vicious circle.They helped to bridge the gap between the universities and enterprises. Lecturers visited companies all over the country and asked the managers about the knowledge and the skills of the graduates they would welcome in their companies. They learned to describe this knowledge and in particular the skills of these new graduates. Lecturers became enthusiastic about this approach and sat together to decide how they should adapt their curricula to produce these new graduates. The above is of course a long process, but with the help of the experts, the lecturers learned step by step to tale the responsibility on what they were teaching and how they were teaching.  Short inputs of foreign experts can have long lasting effects and that is what the Netherlands Senior Educators Programme is aiming to achieve. In this programme universities in development can approach the programme and request for assistance.  

Why is this programme developed?

During a 35-year period of co-operation with universities, two issues appeared which are at the basis of this programme: 

Ø      for most universities it is impossible to pay the high fees of foreign experts

Ø      in particular during the last ten years a huge reservoir of experts is available and there are no programmes to facilitate their valuable inputs  

Universities in countries in development are going through rapid changes. Concurrently, the Government would like them to double their intake; and apart from this, they have to improve their curricula and their teaching methods and even in some cases decentralization takes place, laying a heavy burden on the shoulders of their leaders. Completely new phenomena are to be introduced such as: 

Ø      competence based education

Ø      project based learning

Ø      participatory curriculum development

Ø      new teaching methods

Ø      credit systems

Ø      decentralized management

Ø      management by contracts

Ø      quality assurance

Ø      accreditation

Ø      assessment methods  

We built this programme following the success of the PUM Netherlands Senior Experts Programme (www.pum.nl). 

PUM has played an important role in the field of international development assistance for the past 30 years, sending senior experts to more than 80 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe. Upon request, PUM’s experts offer their skills and experience to businesses and organizations in places where these are most needed. PUM projects are intense and generally take two to three weeks.


What does a university have to do?

Define a problem in your university and come with a request, not an extensive document but 1 or 2 A4’s. To show that it is a serious approach, the university should provide a airline ticket and a place to live. As these NeSEP experts do have their pension benefits, no fees are needed  The NeSEP will look into the request and jointly with the university they will develop a full scale proposal after which NeSEP will select an expert from their database.Experts can generally be stationed at the university for a period of three weeks up to three months.NeSEP will stay in contact with the University for monitoring and evaluating the activity.  In the pilot phase of the programme, requests can come from Asian Universities in China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.Please send request to NeSEP  

How can experts join this programme

There are two main criteria for joining this programme:

  1. you should have something to offer
  2. you should have experience in university level education abroad, preferable in Asia.

Send your details to the NeSEP inclusive a covering letter and a CV. 


Please for further information contact NeSEP, Willem Brinckman, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it