FAQ Comenius programme

An overview of frequently asked questions about the Comenius programme 2018. Missing the answer to your question? Please contact comenius@nro.nl.


Is a translation of the Calls for Proposal and the application forms available?
The English Calls for Proposals and application forms can be found here: https://www.nwo.nl/en/funding/our-funding-instruments/nro/comenius-programme/index.html.

I’m not comfortable writing my proposal and/or questions in Dutch. Can I submit my proposal for a Teaching Fellowship or Senior Fellowship in English?
Yes, you can.

Can I send a question in English to the NRO office?
Yes, you may. We will try our best to answer in English. If our answer confuses you, please call us, and/or ask a Dutch colleague to call/e-mail us at comenius@nro.nl with your question.

When will the new Calls for Proposals be published?
Early June 2018 new Calls for Proposals will be published for Teaching, Senior and Leadership Fellows.

When is the deadline and what do I have to submit?

1. Letter of Intent
A brief statement in which you state that you intend to submit an application. This is not yet assessed in terms of content, but serves to give applicants and the NRO office an idea of the interest in the various rounds and themes. For the Leadership Fellows the summary is used to approach referees with the request to assess the complete application.

The number of letters of intent received will be announced. Submitting a letter of intent is a prerequisite for submitting a full application.

Deadlines Letters of Intent
Teaching Fellows: Tuesday, 28 August 2018
Senior Fellows & Leadership Fellows: Tuesday, 4 September 2018

2. Teaching and Senior Fellows: pre-application
A brief outline of your idea:

– resume

  • what is being delivered?
  • how does this fit the theme of the call?
  • where, with whom and for whom is it carried out?
  • why is this necessary?

– outline and substantiation of the idea

  • why is your proposal innovative (what is happening inside and outside your institution, and what do you add to this?)
  • why is this necessary (which students benefit from this?)
  • why will this innovation lead to an improvement (on which research and / or experience is this based?)

Precise guidelines for this pre-application are published in the Calls for Proposals.

The pre-applications are assessed by an assessment committee that gives a positive or negative advice for submitting a full proposal.

Deadlines Pre-applications
Teaching Fellows: TBD, October 2018
Senior Fellows: TBD, October 2018

3. Leadership, Senior and Teaching Fellows: Full proposal
Teaching Fellows & Senior Fellows: it is strongly advised to submit an application only when the advice for submitting a full proposal was ‘positive’.

Leadership Fellows submit a full application in one go.

Add the following to your pre-application:

– A concrete plan of action

  • what will be achieved within the term of your project and how are you going to achieve this?
  • how are you going to show that a difference has been made? (What are you going to measure / monitor and how are you going to do that?)
  • who is on your team, and what is their expertise?
  • How do you involve students in your team? (In 2019, student involvement will be even more central)
  • budget with explanation of the hours of team members and material costs
  • how do you ensure that your experiences and results of the project are visible and found by other interested parties?

– Information about the main applicant:

  • why does your vision and experience fit the project?
  • what will you contribute with your vision and experience to the Comenius Network?

Deadlines Full Proposals
Teaching Fellows: TBD, December 2018
Senior Fellows: TBD, December 2018

Leadership Fellows: TBD, October 2018

4. Leadership and Senior Fellows: response
Applications in the round Leadership Fellows are submitted to international referees for comments. Applicants receive these comments and are given a week’s time to formulate a response of up to 1500 words.

Applications in the round Senior Fellows are submitted to members of the assessment committee for comments. Applicants receive these comments and are given a week’s time to formulate a response of up to 1000 words.

Leadership Fellows: TBD, December 2018 / January 2019 – always a maximum of five working days after sending the referees’ comments
Senior Fellows: TBD, January / February 2019 – always a maximum of five working days after sending the committee’s comments

5. Leadership Fellows: interviews
After the assessment meeting, the applicants of the most promising proposals will be invited for an interview with the committee. Invitations will be sent no later than one week before the interviews. In this invitation the topics for discussion will be announced. Further preparation for the interviews is not necessary.

Data interviews
Leadership Fellows: TBD, end of March 2019

Who can apply?
The conditions who can submit will not change significantly compared to 2018. The limit of one Senior Fellow / Leadership Fellow application per faculty / institution will remain. We are working on clearer profile sketches for the various Fellows; these will be published in the calls for proposals 2019.

As stated in the Calls for Proposals 2018, applicants who were rejected in the previous round can also submit in 2019 (please note the themes in the Teaching and Senior fellows rounds.)

Who cannot (no longer) apply in 2019?
As also mentioned in the calls for proposals 2018:

  • The institutions where a Leadership Fellow application has been granted in 2018 are excluded from submission in 2019 and 2020.
  • The faculties / institution components where a Senior Fellow application has been awarded are excluded from submission in 2019.

What will be the themes for 2019?
The themes are determined by the Ministry, and will be announced in mid-May 2018.
Therefore it is not certain yet that the themes will be the same as in 2018 nor is it certain that the distribution of the budget over the themes will be the same. It is clear that there will also be a ‘free category’.

Information day about the Comenius programme at the NRO
An information session will take place on Friday afternoon, 8 June 2018. From the end of March you can register via the NRO website. For this applies: first come, first served; presentations of that day will be published on the website afterwards.

The secretaries of the Comenius programme also provide workshops at the congress of the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (19 April) and the VSNU (24 May).

Is it possible to view examples of successful applications from last year?
It is not common to publish applications. In addition, due to changes to the application form, the applications for 2017 and 2018 are no longer ‘exemplary’ for subsequent rounds.

I have a project in mind with objective [x]. Which theme can I choose best? What are my chances?
These questions cannot be answered by the NRO office. In the Call for Proposals you will find a tool for selecting the right theme. In the application, the applicant has to justify the link with the chosen theme.

Who can I contact for advice on preparing the application?  

  • The NRO office and the members of the assessment committee cannot advise you on writing a (specific) application. The NRO office does not make substantive comments about proposals. You can read chapter 2 of the current Call for Proposals. These texts and conditions can of course change in the Calls for Proposals of 2019.
  • When preparing the application and the project plan as a whole, it is recommended that you seek assistance from an educational advisor / educational researcher and a subsidy advisor at your institution. In addition, it is recommended that the application is read at least by one colleague and one outsider (the latter to check on jargon, because the assessment committee is a ‘science-wide’ committee, with members from different academic disciplines).

I would like to withdraw my letter of intent.
You can do this by logging in to your ISAAC account. Go to the page of your letter of intent, and click ‘withdraw’.
When cancelling your letter of intent, you are not obliged to state the reason for doing so. However, in order to evaluate this first ‘complete round’ of the Comenius programme, we would appreciate it if you take the time to tel lus. Please send an e-mail to comenius@nro.nl.

I did not submit a letter of intent. Can I nevertheless submit a full application?
No. The letters of intent are used to inform both the NRO office and the applicants on the (maximum) number of applications submitted in a round  & theme. Without letter of intent, you cannot submit a proposal.

I submitted a letter of intent, but I would like to promote a colleague as main applicant. Can I change this?
This is not allowed, and is also not possible to do by yourself, since both the letter of intent and the application are submitted through the account of the main applicant. In case you are not in a position to manage the project and this is caused by circumstances beyond your control, please send an e-mail to comenius@nro.nl

Can I change the theme of my application?
No, this is not allowed. (Please see the question about submitting an application without submitting a letter of intent).

Can I change the title and summary of my application, in comparison to the letter of intent?
Yes, you can. However, please notify us via comenius@nro.nl if you decide to change the title. (You do not have to notify us on changes in the summary.)

I do not have a position at a higher education institute for the full duration of my project, but I might get this if the grant is awarded to my proposal. Can I submit an application?
No, you cannot. The context in which your project is carried out is crucial for the success of the project. It is therefore necessary that your contract and/or the people you can work with are not in question.

I have a position at a Dutch Higher Education institute, but gained the majority of my experience in teaching at the higher education level abroad. Can I submit a proposal?
Yes, you can.

My co-applicants work in a different team with another supervisor and/or at another faculty. Should we include declarations and signatures of every single supervisor/dean?
No, you don’t need to. Please make sure that in the declaration of the supervisor / dean of the main applicant, the undersigned declares that he/she has discussed the role of all members of the team with their supervisors. If necessary, you could further expand on the way other departments/teams are involved in the description of the plan and/or the team.

Do I need to upload a seperate CV along with my proposal?
No, you don’t have to. In the application form you will find space to list your professional experience relevant to this project.

I have a question regarding the years of experience required to submit a poroposal for Teaching / Senior / Leadership Fellowship
You can add the years of experienced gained at different institutions.

How important is my (teaching) experience? How does this relate to the assessment of my vision for higher education?

  • The committee uses both your listed experience and the Professional Statement to assess whether your profile suits the Teaching / Senior / Leadership profile and whether your experience matches the proposed project.
  • In a strong professional statement, the applicant connects his/her teaching experience, vison on education, the proposed project and the envisioned next step(s) in their teaching carreer.

How do I provide access to examples of my teaching experience for the committee, if this teaching material is not publicly available?
You can upload files via a file-sharing platform (eg Dropbox, SURF file share, Drive) and copy & paste the link in the table in the application form.

If I am listed as a co-applicant in a Senior or Leadership fellow proposal, and the proposal is granted, will I be allowed to apply for a Teaching or Senior Fellowship myself in future rounds?
Yes, since it is only the main applicant who is ‘formally’ named as Fellow, you can still submit your own projects on ‘lower’ tiers in the programme.

I can list three co-applicants. Does that mean my team can comprise only four people?

  • No, your team can be larger than the number of co-applicants. Whoever you list as co-applicants is up to you.
  • Members of the team who have a role in co-desinging the project with you, in managing the project and / or in the research alongside the project could be listed as co-applicants. Team members with a smaller role or an ‘interchangeable’ role in the projects are not listed as co-applicants.
  • In the application form for the Leadership Fellows you will find room to not only list the professional experience of the main applicant, but also of the co-applicant(s).

I do not know the names of all people who will be working in my team. Should I list a “Person X” as co-applicant?

  • No, you should not. As described above, co-applicants are (usually) people who are also involved in the application stage of the project. People who are not yet involved and –possible-  will be hired only later should not be listed as (anonymous) co-applicants.
  • In the application form you will find space to describe the team, including the persons and/or expertise who will be hired later on. On the estimate of the budget you can list the role/expertise, and not the person.

We envision a teaching professionalisation project, aimed primarily at teachers. Students are, at this stage / for the duration of the project nor (directly) involved. Can we submit an application for a Comenius grant?

  • No, probably not. The projects in the Comenius programme should benefit the students at Dutch Higher Education institutes. The project and/or the intervention should therefore take place in the (digital) learning environment of the students.
  • This does not mean that teacher professionalisation cannot be a part of a Comenius project. In fact, in case of the Senior and Leadership fellow projects, this is very likely.

We envision a research project that has the potential to lay the foundations for an educational innovation. The innovation / intervention will take place after the duration of the proposed project (with different funding.) Can we apply for a Comenius grant?
No, in the Call for Proposals you will find that the innovation has to be carried out during the project. In projects with a longer duration (Senior and Leadership) it is allowed to take some (more) time for initital research.

My project is primarily aimed at students at a different, non-Dutch institution. Can I submit a proposal?
No, projects should be aimed primarily at innovating and improving higher education in the Netherlands.

My institution is a publicly funded higher institution, but the programme is not (e.g. pre-master / post-initial / part-time / etc.) Can I submit a proposal?
Yes, you can.

Will the same themes be chosen for the Comenius programmes in 2019?
This has not yet been decided. The themes for 2019 will be decided on by the minister of education in spring 2018.

When can my project start?
Projects cannot start before the official announcement of the decision to honour / reject proposals. The earliest possible start date and last possible end-date are mentioned in the calls for proposals.

What do the “maximum fees” as listed in the Call for Proposals mean?

  • This means that the fees you list for the persons on the budget estimate cannot exceed these numbers. If the real costs are below these fees, you are advised to use the real costs. These fees are explained in further detail in the Guide to Government Fees for 2017, which is available at www.nwo.nl/nroprojectbeheer.
  • To determine the real costs at your institution, please contact the financial controller at your department.

What does the phrase “Of the total FTE for which budget is requested, at least 30% must be for the main applicant/project leader” (Call for Proposals Teaching Fellows) mean?

  • This condition is installed to guarantee that at least a considerable part (30% of the total time spend on the project) is carried out by the main applicant / project leader? This does not mean that at least 30% of the budget for salary costs should be reserved for the main applicant. Because of the variations in hourly fees, this can vary.
  • This condition is not applicable for the Senior and Leadership fellows, since these teams are bigger and more diverse.

Can I include costs for user-licences for software that has been developed before the start of the project and/or has not been developed by me as material costs in the budget estimate?
No, you cannot, even if these licences are required specifically for the project. When you do wish to include these costs in the total budget for the project, please show that these costs are shown by co-financing from your department/institution. Please note that these co-financing has to be guraranteed at the moment of submitting your proposal.

I work with a partner institution which is also a publicly funded HE institute. Can we list the costs of the personell of the other institution under ‘Staff costs’?

Yes, you can. However, if your proposal is granted the ministry will transfer the money tot he institution of the main applicant. This institution and the parner institution should then arrange the division of the budget among themselves.

I work with an organisation which is not a publicly funded Higher Education institute (e.g. projects in the category Socially engaged HE). Can I list the personell costs of the partner institution on our budget estimate?

  • Yes, to a certain extent. These costs should be listed as material costs. (This is because the funds in the Comenius Programme are primarily aimed at Dutch HE institutes). Please keep in mind that there are limits to the maximum amount of material costs.
  • An alternative could be to fund these hours as co-financing (in kind, in the form of personnell costs). Please keep in mind that the total co-founding budget cannot exceed the total requested budget.
  • Please also note that the requirement that 30% of the FTE is allocated to the main applicant (Teaching Fellow) still applies.

Can I list the salary costs of someone who works at a partner institution or social partners (theme “Higher education in connection with society) on the budget estimate?

  • Yes, if this person or persons play an active role in the design/management of the project.
  • You could also opt for co-financing and/or listing the contribution of the social partner as “in kind” contribution. Please note that the requirement that 30% of the FTE is allocated to the main applicant (Teaching Fellow) still applies.

What is the deadline for submitting a proposal?
The deadlines vary for every tier, and are listed in the Calls for Proposal that will be published in June 2018. You can find an indication in the item “Procedure Comenius programme 2019“.

Can I request a postponement for the submitting of a proposal?
No, this is not possible.

How do I submit my application in ISAAC?
You can submit your application by converting your letter of intent to an application. Open ISAAC, go to your letter of intent and click on the green button ‘Convert to application’. You can find more information on how to do this in §2.6 of the ISAAC manual.

My institution, faculty or institution is not yet registered in ISAAC, or the details are incorrect / outdated

  • Please send an e-mail to relatiebeheer@nwo.nl to make sure that the NRO secretariat can register the correct details. Please include:

– Complete official name of the institution / department
– Address (postal address and visiting address)
– Phone number

  • Check at least one week before the deadline whether your institution is registered correctly so that the NRO staff can change this in time!

ISAAC does not respond / I do not know how to proceed to the next step in ISAAC / I have another question about ISAAC
The staff at NRO cannot help you with technical questions about ISAAC (we cannot create an applicant’s account and can therefore not access the applicants’ interface). You can contact the ISAAC helpdesk if you have any technical questions about ISAAC. Please read the ISAAC manual before consulting the helpdesk. The ISAAC helpdesk can be contacted from Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 17:00 hours CEST on +31 (0)20 346 71 79. You can also send your queries by email to isaac.helpdesk@nwo.nl. You will receive an answer within two working days.

I did not receive a confirmation
Some universities’ servers or spam filters filter the e-mails sent out automatically by ISAAC. If you do not find a cofnirmation in your spam-folder, but you do see your application as ‘submitted’ in ISAAC, please sen dan e-mail with a screenshot from ISAAC to comenius@nro.nl.

When will I receive news on my application?
The planning for every round in the Comenius Programme is listed in the Call for Proposal. All communication is send tot he e-mail address of the main applicant in ISAAC.

Who are in the assessment committee?
To avoid external influences / pressure, the names of the persons in the assessment committees are confidential. A profile of the committee as a whole is listed in the Calls for Proposals.

Who are in the interview panel (Leadership Fellows)
When you are invited for an interview, you will receive a list of the members of the panel.

My question is not listed in the FAQ

  • Please send an e-mail to comenius@nro.nl.
  • If you send us an e-mail with a question on a specific tier, please mention “Teaching Fellow”, “Senior Fellow or “Leadership Fellow” in the subject line.

I have a question about ISAAC
The staff at NRO cannot help you with technical questions about ISAAC (we cannot create an applicant’s account and can therefore not access the applicants’ interface). You can contact the ISAAC helpdesk if you have any technical questions about ISAAC. Please read the ISAAC manual before consulting the helpdesk. The ISAAC helpdesk can be contacted from Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 17:00 hours CEST on +31 (0)20 346 71 79. You can also send your queries by email to isaac.helpdesk@nwo.nl. You will receive an answer within two working days.