Netherlands National Experiences

Published: 08/03/2011 | Modified: 12/12/2014, 9:43 am

Contact details of the institution hosting the BHOs

 

Stichting Nuffic

PO Box 29777, 2502 LT The Hague
Phone: +31 70 426 0260
Mail: see www.nuffic.nl/home/contact/contact-form
URL website: www.nuffic.nl

Bridgehead Organisation

Nuffic is the Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education, an independent non-governmental body.

EURAXESS Services Centres

University of Tilburg
University of Eindhoven
Univerity of Maastricht
University of Groningen

Local Contact Points

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Structure of the national network

Nuffic as BHO is responsible for coordinating the EURAXESS national network and the Dutch EURAXESS portal.
The network has grown in 2014 and will continue to grow in the coming years as more and more universities are showing interest in joining the network.

Full-time equivalent staff:   Number of persons:
BHO BHO
Nuffic: 0.1 FTE Nuffic:1
ESC ESC
Nuffic: 0.4 FTE Nuffic: 3
University of Groningen: unknown University of Groningen: unknown
University of Maastricht: unknown University of Maastricht: unknown
University of Eindhoven: unknown University of Eindhoven: unknown
LoCP LoCP
Erasmus university Rotterdam: unknown Erasmus university Rotterdam: unknown

 

 

Signing the Declaration of Commitment (DoC)

All the institutions in the network have signed the DoC.

National funding of the EURAXESS Services Network

There is no ear-marked national funding available for the EURAXESS Services Network.

Target groups of the Bridgehead Organisations

  • authorities (ministeries, executive agencies, stakeholders)
  • administrative staff in research institutions

Target groups of the EURAXESS Services Centres

  • incoming researchers
  • administrative staff

Target groups of the Local Contact Points

  • Incoming researchers

Relationship and communication between the BHO, the Steering Group for Human Resources and Mobility for Researchers (SG HRM), the National Contact Points (NCPs) and the Programme Committee

Nuffic is in contact with the Dutch delegate to the SG HRM. We have no formal lines with the Dutch NCP, but are informally liaised to them.

 

Graphical template NL 2014

 

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1. Students help identify relevant keywords for search function

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:38 pm

In collaboration with 30 students from the Hogeschool Utrecht (University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, The Netherlands) we evaluated the keyword search function for 9 job boards in May 2008. You can find the report with our findings here. These students were about to enter the job market. Although they were not representative of researchers, we assume that the findings can be extrapolated to other groups, including researchers. The findings in this study are consistent with the conclusions about searches offered by Nielsen & Norman Group2

We have implemented our findings about the search function in the following EURAXESS features (also see the screenshot below):

Start search function:

  • Long search box, at least 30 (normal) characters, so you can enter more than one keyword and still see what you are entering.

  • Works with Boolean search, so visitors can search with operators such as + and -.

  • No advanced search, to avoid cumbersome decision-making before the search action.

Search results page:

  • The search term is displayed above the results. It is visible and adaptable.

  • The title of each result is clickable.

  • The beginning of the first paragraph of the article is displayed to give a sense of the link purpose.

  • No extra information is provided, such as relevance, type of link or URL; this is mostly useless, distracting information. Keep it simple.

  • Unambiguous notation of the date: the month is written out in text format.

2See Nielsen, Prioritizing Web Usability

2. Be a user of your own website

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:37 pm

As writers of our website texts, we sometimes have difficulty identifying the weaknesses in our content. When we receive questions for which we thought the answer was available on the website, or for which we think it ought to be available, we take the opportunity to look at the site afresh.

We try to find the answer on the website as if we were visitors ourselves. If we find that the answer is actually on the website, sometimes—only if the conversation allows it—we ask how the person went about trying to find the answer, just to identify where our information was not clear.

We find this is an easy way to check if users can find the information they are looking for.

Furthermore, it has given us many surprising insights. Often when we thought the obvious route to an answer was clear, someone pointed out to us that with other equally valuable assumptions they would not find the information they needed.

In addition, we often receive very positive feedback by the people asking us questions. They seem to feel that they are taken seriously when we try to find out how we can improve the information we make available to them.

3. Easy updating with an easy CMS

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:37 pm

This best practice is especially meant for those intending to build a new national portal.

Select website software which has a user-friendly Content Management System (CMS)*.
Although it may not be a catch-all solution, it has been a great improvement for us in terms of our website content maintenance.

We used to work with a very difficult, rigid CMS, and found it a real hassle to make updates to our website. Now we operate with a flexible, user-friendly CMS, and it has become much easier to make changes.

Typos and minor changes can be done between other jobs. Larger alterations need a little more time, but are done a lot quicker than before, and we no longer feel like it is a major challenge to undertake this type of work. The result is a better maintained website.

*The CMS is the workspace of the website, where all the texts, links and pictures are uploaded onto the site.

4. A wireframe helps visualise the website in the construction phase

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:37 pm

In the conception phase—before the coding of the site started—we established a fully equipped wireframe. A wireframe is a visualization of the structure and functionality of the site. It is a website, but it is very easy to make. It is not the website insofar as it has no database, no CMS and no proper layout, but in some ways it works like the real one. Decisions that are discussed can be placed in the wireframe, where the result is visible and the pros and cons can be considered.

All our stakeholders were invited to give their feedback on the wireframe, which helped us determine what structure to give to the content. The wireframe is still available here

5. Using open source software

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 11/04/2014, 1:23 pm

 

We have built the EURAXESS NL site with open source products.

The main reasons to do so were:

  • Proven quality: we were already using the software for www.academictransfer.com and were quite satisfied with it.
  • Support in recent literature for using open source. According to the study ‘Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU,’ using open source software is economically the best choice for organisations. It helps to prevent monopolies of companies (avoiding vendor lock-in) and the quality of the software is equal if not better than that of closed source software.

We have used the following programs:

  • Plone: a Content Management System
  • Django: framework using Python
  • Python: programming language
  • Postgres: database
  • ZOPE: server software

 

6. Using experts to improve our website

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:37 pm

We believe that the quality of a national portal can truly benefit from a web expert joining in the process of designing and/or improving the portal.

We work together with a web expert whose experience helps us to improve our website. His main focus is user-friendliness, and claims—and we agree—that the user-friendliness of a site has a strong positive impact on the behaviour of its users.

It is important to us that the web expert be involved in the entire process—getting a feel for the project, the aim of the website, the target groups, etc. As he understands our needs, our wishes and our challenges, he is able to advise us on possible solutions.

As the web expert has been part of the entire process, he has helped us with many issues, such as the following:

  • He has advised us to change the menu structure.

  • He has advised us to change some of the introductions to the texts so the content would be easier to find with search engines and with the internal search engine.

  • He has advised us on how the Dutch website guidelines (compulsory for Dutch governmental websites) can improve our site.

  • He has advised us on how to improve the readability of the text.

  • He conveys our wishes to the web builders.

  • He translates the software limitations as explained by the web builders to us and provides us with possible solutions.

  • Last but not least, he helps keep the prices low, as he is in a better position to bargain with the web builders. He knows how difficult certain things are to make, and how long it takes to complete certain adaptations. When certain failures appear, he knows that it is part of the work we have agreed upon, so we do not have to pay extra to fix them. Not only has this helped a great deal with keeping the price reasonable, but it has also helped us to streamline the entire process.

In terms of content development, we use a variety of experts:

  • first of all, ourselves, as we know which questions are asked, and generally which information needs to be on the website (although this is an ongoing learning process);

  • an expert on how to organize website content (web expert);

  • an expert on how to write for websites (web editor);

  • an expert on how to write in English (translator);

  • experts on specific information (Tax authorities, immigration authorities, etc.).

To begin with, we sat down to think of which topics should be covered in the website. In order to design the content, we asked a web expert to advise us on how to structure all the information. He helped us with issues such as how many layers the site should have, how to deal with PDFs, external links, and long, information-heavy texts.

All the texts we write for the website are checked by a translator and checked or edited by a web editor.

Furthermore, we have the relevant authority check the content of the text: for instance, if we write about a fiscal option for travelling researchers (known as knowledge migrants in The Netherlands), we will submit the text to the Tax Authorities to check if the content is correct. Of course it is important to have a contact person within the authority, someone you can ask to check the content, or who can give you a name of a colleague who will be able to do so.

7. Use writing guidelines to adjust text to the website

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:37 pm

The content was written and edited using the following easy-to-use content guidelines:

  • An article consists of a title, a summary and a body.

  • An article is written using the inverted pyramid: from important to less important.

  • The title is HTML coded as h1. The following headings are coded as h2 and h3.

  • The language is easy to understand. We have used the Common European Framework of Reference to write, assess, and, wherever necessary, rewrite our content. We write for intermediate-level English readers (B1/B2).

  • Content is written as stand-alone content. Parts of the content can be read without the need to read other parts.

  • Keywords are chosen using the Latent Semantic Indexing method.

These guidelines make content:

  • more accessible for people with disabilities,

  • more readable for everyone,

  • easier to find with search engines.

The background for these guidelines can be found in:

1. Use writing guidelines to adjust text to the website

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:37 pm

The content was written and edited using the following easy-to-use content guidelines:

  • An article consists of a title, a summary and a body.

  • An article is written using the inverted pyramid: from important to less important.

  • The title is HTML coded as h1. The following headings are coded as h2 and h3.

  • The language is easy to understand. We have used the Common European Framework of Reference to write, assess, and, wherever necessary, rewrite our content. We write for intermediate-level English readers (B1/B2).

  • Content is written as stand-alone content. Parts of the content can be read without the need to read other parts.

  • Keywords are chosen using the Latent Semantic Indexing method.

These guidelines make content:

  • more accessible for people with disabilities,

  • more readable for everyone,

  • easier to find with search engines.

The background for these guidelines can be found in:

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1. General information

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:11 pm

State social security is open to everyone who is in employment or who is regarded as a resident. Residency require stays for more than 1 year

2. Foreign employee

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:11 pm

  • Employees have full social security coverage
  • No difference between fixed contract or a temporary contract

3. Foreign researcher without contract

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:12 pm

  • Researcher with own means can still get an employment contract and the employer will pay social security contributions from the scholarship.
  • Researchers can also be on a “host agreement”, where the employer does not pay social security contributions. The researcher must then have their own insurance or apply for the state insurance in the Netherlands.
  • Residency for more than 1 year gives health care benefit, except from Ph.D. candidates under the age of 30.
  • Residency may also give access to parental benefits, old age pension and rent allowance.

4. Foreign student

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:13 pm

  • Ph.D. candidates admitted to Ph.D. programs are employed
  • Ph.D. candidates coming for shorter periods not admitted to programs are treated as researchers with own means. Unemployed Ph.D. candidates under the age of 30 are not part of the social security system

5. Comments on benefits

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 9:14 pm

All employed citizens

 

Health care –yes + an state allowance to subsidize lower income households in the cost of the healthcare insurance.

AWBZ extra medical coverage – everyone in employment is covered by the state social security schemes

Sickness leave – yes

Unemployment – yes

Rent allowance – yes, subsidizes accommodation costs for lower incomes

Parental benefit – yes + a small parental benefit paid out to parents each three months.

Child care – yes

Disability pensions – benefit dependent on insurance at the moment of incident that caused the disability.

Old-age pensions – built up 2% rights to the overall entitlements/year. Depending on the country they want to have the old age pension paid to when they are retired, they might receive it all, part of it, or nothing. At the moment the Netherlands only export benefits to countries with who a treaty is signed on the exporting of benefits. The benefit is indexed against the cost of living of the country.

Supplementary pension- Accured entitlements will remain valid and can be exported for all employees once retirement age has been reached.

6. Eager to learn more?

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 09/01/2015, 2:00 pm

If you would like more information then download the complete table from here