An additional number of higher education institutions were allowed to enter the regulated education market in the Netherlands from 2007 to 2015. Therefor a more open education system was created. An open system is one where all institutions are subject to the same conditions for entry into and operation in a regulated market, thus creating a level playing field. In the current regulated education market, the number of higher education institutions is laid down by law, which rules out new entrants. Under the ‘Open System Experiments’ new entrants were temporarily permitted, subject to certain constraints. The impact of the Experiments was examined in an eight-year monitoring evaluation.

Under the Experiments nineteen higher professional (HBO) programmes entered the regulated market. They hardly had any impact on the market structure and market behaviour of existing players, mainly due to the limited number of new entrants compared to the existing ones.. At the same time hardly any differences were found in student performance and programme quality between the programmes under the Experiments and similar programmes that already existed. This limited impact may have been due to the time-limitation of the Experiments, the relatively small size and the constraints laid down by the ministry.

The evaluation did however reveal some differences between distance learning and face-to-face instruction as rated by students. Distance learning, which was relatively common for the Open System Experiments, rated higher for ‘studyability’, for instance, but less highly for student progress, compared with face-to-face instruction.