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The Dutch Ministry of Education has announced a EUR 19 million increase in the budget for the Sirius Programme, the Netherlands’ very own excellence initiative. Including contributions from the selected institutions, a total of EUR 107 million is now allocated to an attempt to “challenge the best students to get the best out of themselves”. The largest part of the budget is available for initiatives at the bachelor level, a first phase of the programme which started in 2008. Ventures in excellence at the master level are set to commence in 2010. The aim of these excellence initiatives is to examine how excellence in higher education can best be reached and to identify the existing obstacles. A total of 11 higher education institutions have been selected to participate in the Sirius Programme.
In another effort to reach excellence, the Ministry of Education has established a commission which is to contemplate over the future of higher education in the Netherlands. This group of six will evaluate the Dutch higher education structure by means of comparing the Netherlands with leading higher education systems world-wide. The conclusions and recommendations of the commission are expected in February, 2010.