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.

FAQ

Is a translation of the Calls for Proposal and the application forms available?
The English Calls for Proposals 2019 will be available late June 2019, and published 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.

Where can I find the new calls for proposals?
The English Calls for Proposals 2019 will be available late June 2019, and published here: https://www.nwo.nl/en/funding/our-funding-instruments/nro/comenius-programme/index.html The Dutch calls are available at https://www.nwo.nl/financiering/onze-financieringsinstrumenten/nro/comeniusprogramma/index.html

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. There is, at this stage, no limit or minimum for the amount of words used for the summary; in the (preliminary) application the limit is 250 words.

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
Leadership Fellows: Tuesday, 4 September 2018
Senior Fellows: Tuesday, 4 September 2018. Teaching and Senior Fellows: preliminary application

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

The preliminary applications are assessed by an assessment committee. After the assessment, the main applicant receives a positive or negative advice for submitting a full application.

Deadlines Preliminary applications
Teaching Fellows: Tuesday, 25 September 2018
Senior Fellows: Tuesday, 2 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.

Guidelines for the full application are listed in the Calls for Proposals.

Deadlines Full Proposals
Teaching Fellows: Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Senior Fellows: Tuesday, 4 December 2018Leadership Fellows: TBD, October 2018

4. Senior Fellows and Leadership Fellows: response

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.

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.

Deadlines
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 that applicants have to meet are stated in the Call 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 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.

Please note: in 2018 we announced that faculties/departments which had been granted a Senior Fellowship would be excluded from applying for a Senior Fellowship in 2019. This restriction is not continued: all faculties/departments can apply.

I do not have an ISAAC-account
You can create your own account via www.isaac.nwo.nl

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 NWO 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 NWO staff can change this in time!

Where can I find the form for the letter of intent?
There is no specific form for the letter of intent: you can submit your “letter” through the online application system ISAAC.

Click on the “Apply electronically” button on the specific web pages for the Teaching, Senior and Leadership fellowships and you will be re-directed to ISAAC. There, you can create an account and log in. Please note that, if you are applying for a Teaching or a Senior Fellowship, you have to mention the theme in the summary. If you are applying for a Leadership Fellowship, please use the summary to (also) mention suggestions for international referees.

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.

What should I include in my letter of intent?
When you log in to ISAAC you will be asked to submit some administrative data (name, work address, etc.) In the ‘summary’ field you should at least include the theme of the proposal (Senior & Teaching Fellows.) There is, at this stage, no limit or minimum for the amount of words used for the summary; in the (preliminary) application the limit is 250 words.
The summary of a Leadership Fellow’s letter of intent is used to send out a request to review the to-be-submitted application to international reviewers. This means that the reviewers should be able to judge whether they have the right expertise to review the proposal based on this summary.

Will my letter of intent be more successful if I do…
The letters of intent are not presented to the assessment committee and/or referees, and, therefore, will not be assessed on the quality of the letter. By submitting a letter of intent, you are granted access to the next stage of submitting a full application.

We use the letters of intent to get an estimate of the (maximum) number of applications in a specific theme and to select members for the assessment committees. Information on the number of submitted letters of intent will be sent to the applicants shortly after the deadline.

! The summary of a Leadership Fellow’s letter of intent is used to send out a request to review the to-be-submitted application to international reviewers. This means that the reviewers should be able to judge whether they have the right expertise to review the proposal based on this summary.

Do I need a signature of my coordinator / dean / executive board for the letter of intent?
No, you only need this for the full application.

However, we do advise all applicants to start as early as possible in contacting their supervisors about their intention to submit a proposal. This is especially important for Senior and Leadership Fellows because of the limit of one application per faculty resp. institution.

If the NRO office notices that more than one letter of intent per faculty / institution is submitted, all applicants and the central staff of the institution will be notified.

Do I have to submit all the names of the members of my team / co-applicants in the letter of intent?
When submitting a letter of intent for the round Teaching Fellows or Senior Fellows you do not have to list your co-applicants yet. If you chose to do so (in the summary) you can even change these names in the final application. However, when submitting a letter of intent for the round Leadership Fellows, we ask you to provide a preliminary composition of the project team.

Can I get a postponement to submit the letter of intent?
No, we cannot grant postponements. However, it is unlikely that you will need postponement: only the name of the main applicant and the theme (Teaching / Leadership fellows) cannot be changed after submitting the letter of intent. You are allowed to make changes in the summary and the members of your team. In fact, it is not mandatory to submit a full summary or details on the team.

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 confirmation in your spam-folder, but you do see your application as ‘submitted’ in ISAAC, please send an e-mail with a screenshot from ISAAC to comenius@nro.nl

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 tell us. 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 received a (positive) recommendation and I want to convert my preliminary application into a full application. Can I change the parts that were already part of the preliminary application (e.g. summary of the project proposal, problem outline)?
Yes, you can. In the case of a positive recommendation probably only minor changes are required. In the case of a negative recommendation, however, you are strongly advised to submit a new proposal next year instead of drawing up a completely revised plan in this short time.

The ‘drop-down’ menu in the first part of the MS-Word form do not seem to be working
This a communication error between MS-Word and (some versions of) Word and/or other text formatting software used on Apple computers. This problem is solved by opening the form on a Windows-computer.

I cannot insert a scan of the signature of my coordinator / dean / executive board in the application form.
If this problem persists you can attach a separate declaration to the application form (please submit this in one PDF).

Because of the limitations in editing options, my co-workers/co-applicants cannot make remarks in the document.
The forms have been protected with a password in order to avoid changes to the structure of the document etc  If you wish to enable comments, you can consider to take off this protection. The password for all forms is Comenius2019.

Please be careful that you do not make any changes in the headings and/or order of the form. You can check this by taking a new, protected document when submitting your final application.

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. 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).

You can download a handout which can be used as a guideline for conversations about your application.

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 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 initial 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, because it is a post-initial programme. Can we still apply?
No, you cannot. Projects in the Comenius programme should take place in initial higher education programmes and/or programmes that aim to improve the entrance to initial higher education.

This is because the funds for the Comenius programme stem from the funds that have become available after the start of the student loan system. Project should be aimed at students who would ‘otherwise’ have received a student grant.

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 separate 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 proposal 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 career.

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-designing 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.

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-licenses 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 licenses 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 guaranteed 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 personnel of the other institution under ‘Staff costs’?
Yes, you can. However, if your proposal is granted the ministry will transfer the money to the institution of the main applicant. This institution and the partner institution should then arrange the division of the budget among themselves.

I work with an organization which is not a publicly funded Higher Education institute. Can I list the personnel 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 personnel 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 hours invested in the project are allocated to the main applicant (Teaching Fellow) still applies.

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 to the e-mail address of the main applicant as registered in ISAAC.

Who are in the assessment committee?
To prevent 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. The assessment committee for the full applications generally consists of the same members as the assessment committee for the preliminary applications.

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.