The Interuniversity Centre for Educational Sciences (ICO) is an interuniversity graduate school and research network.
By bringing all relevant research groups in the Educational Sciences together, ICO offers a broad base for the domain in the Netherlands and Belgium. ICO organizes PhD training, promotes and supports national and international cooperation in research, and establishes cross-connections within the discipline, with the aim of creating focus and mass, and profiling the field
During your PhD trajectory, ICO helps you in more than one way. ICO offers a PhD training programme, with courses that are all closely connected to the educational sciences. You start building on your network during the ICO introductory course. This will continue as you take part in other ICO courses and conferences, where you will get the opportunity to meet with PhD’s and staff members from outside your own department. At the international conference you will meet PhD candidates and senior staff from ICO and other countries, and attend workshops and presentation sessions.
ICO also offers support, and monitors your progress. This starts by the ICO Scientific committee reviewing your project proposal, and is followed up by a yearly questionnaire. If you encounter difficulties during your research project or with an ICO course, the ICO counsellor is available to offer advice and support.
As an ICO member you are part of a scientific community, which forms a stable and valuable network within the domain of the Educational Sciences in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is a forum for further communication between participating institutes with a view of short-term and long-term collaboration. The monthly newsletter informs you about the field of the educational sciences and vacancies.
ICO unites all research in the domain of educational sciences in the Netherlands and a substantial and increasing part of the research in this domain in Belgium.
ICO educates the educational researchers of tomorrow. It does so in a powerful, research-based learning environment, bringing its PhD candidates in contact with other junior researchers and senior researchers from universities and research institutes in the Netherlands, Belgium and abroad. ICO offers coursework, provides networking opportunities, and safeguards the quality of supervision. Researchers educated by ICO are responsible researchers, able to conduct the best research with a positive impact on educational practice.
The general mission of ICO is to organize postgraduate training in a strong research-based environment. PhD candidates learn to advance scientific theories for understanding processes and systems of learning and instruction. Educational sciences is a small research area within most of the participating universities, which makes it hard to provide high quality courses on educational sciences locally. ICO provides the economy of scale that is needed to organise advanced courses for PhDs in this area.
According to the Common Regulation (‘Gemeenschappelijke Regeling’, see Appendix 6, Article 3), which contains the regulations of the organization, ICO has three main objectives. First, promoting the quality of postgraduate education for PhD candidates doing scientific research in the educational sciences. Secondly, organizing courses, lectures, seminars, symposia, colloquia and joint publications. Thirdly, stimulating internationalization and international collaboration within the research area.
ICO was established in 1988 and resulted from a partnership between the universities of Twente and Groningen that aimed to offer advanced courses to PhD students. In 1991 and 1992, Maastricht University and the University of Nijmegen joined ICO. Further initiatives in the beginning of 1993 by the ICO directorship encouraged participation of the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Tilburg University and the Open University of the Netherlands. In 1994, ICO was formally accredited as a ‘research school’ by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). In 1996, Leiden University joined ICO and Wageningen University joined in 1999, making up 10 partners, covering almost the complete field of academic educational research in the Netherlands. At that time, a new five-year period for ICO commenced following the accreditation for a second period by the KNAW. In subsequent years, the research group on educational psychology at Tilburg University was reduced and eventually terminated. Tilburg University withdrew from ICO in 2002. At the same time, the Eindhoven University of Technology decided to participate in ICO. From January 2004, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam joined. Due to internal university policies encouraging the development of local graduate schools, the universities of Nijmegen and Groningen decided to formally leave ICO in 2004 and 2006, respectively. In 2010, Ghent University, the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the University of Antwerp, and the University of Groningen joined the ICO Network, which is a partnership program of ICO, as part of ICO’s expanded efforts to cooperate with national and international partners. They became full ICO members in 2012.
KU Leuven and the Radboud University Nijmegen joined the ICO Network in 2014. They became full partners of ICO in 2016 after the new Formal Basis (Gemeenschappelijke Regeling) was signed by all ICO universities. In 2017 the Université Catholique de Louvain has joined ICO.
In 2012, the ICO accreditation proposal for 2012-2018 was honoured by the KNAW. This fourth accreditation period ended December 2018. From 2018 onwards, the interuniversity schools in the Netherlands are part of the Standard Evaluation Protocol. In 2018 the SEP review committee was very positive about ICO. ICO will again be assessed in 2022.