Analytic Quality Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home


Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 22 September, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


Novel Recipes



Binary system

core definition

A binary system is one that has higher education taught in two different type of institution, traditional (academic) universities alongside more vocationally-oriented institutions.

explanatory context

Binary systems are compared to unitary systems where higher education is delivered in one type of institution (usually universities). Non-university higher education institutions include: technikons, polytechnics, Fachhochschulen, hogescholen and colleges of higher education.


The unitary versus binary division, in practice, is only indicative. In the UK, for example, the changing of polytechnics to universities supposedly ended the binary system, yet higher education is still split between universities and non-universities (institutes of higher education and some further education colleges).


In some countries the binary system operates between traditional universities and universities of applied science.

analytical review

Campbell and Rozsnyai, (2002, p. 132) define:

Binary (or dual) system: When higher education in a country is offered in two separate and distinct types of institutions universities and non-university establishments. (2006), for examples describes the Netherlands higher education as follows:

The Netherlands higher education system is a binary system, composed of Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (WO which is more research-oriented and traditionally offered by universities) and Hoger Beroepsonderwijs (HBO - professional higher education, traditionally offered by hogescholen). WO programmes provide education and research in a wide range of disciplines : language and culture, behaviour and society, economics, law, medical and health sciences, natural sciences, engineering and agriculture. In addition, there is the Open Universiteit (OU - Open University) which offers fully recognized university degree programmes through distance education. Internationaal Onderwijs (IO) (international education), generally conducted in English, is mainly designed to meet the needs of foreign students. Since September 2002, the higher education system in the Netherlands has been organized around a three-cycle degree system consisting of bachelor, master and PhD degrees. At the same time, the ECTS system (European Credit Transfer System) was implemented as a mean to quantify all higher education study programmes.

associated issues


related areas

See also

unitary system


Campbell, C. & Rozsnyai, C., 2002, Quality Assurance and the Development of Course Programmes. Papers on Higher Education Regional University Network on Governance and Management of Higher Education in South East Europe Bucharest, UNESCO., 2006, The Netherlands, Source: IAU from Centre for International Recognition and Certification, Nuffic, the Hague, 2006, available at, accessed 20 September 2012, still available 20 June 2019, although content changed and copyright 1995–2014.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

A NOVEL Who bombed a Birmingham mosque?


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home