SURF strives to improve the quality of education and research through the application of ICT. This involves removing any barriers in the area of functional capacity, accessibility and collaboration. To this end, SURF supports ‘open’: open access to research results, learning materials, standards and open source.

SURF prioritises ´open´

The SURF Strategic Plan 2015-2018 (PDF) sets out the higher education and research institutions’ commitment to prioritising the ‘open’ theme. This applies to the fields of both education and research. We are currently leading the international field in terms of national cooperation in this area. 

Digital openness

The ‘digital openness family’ consists of the following members:

  • open access
  • open learning materials
  • open research data
  • open standards
  • open source 

Open access

Access to knowledge, information and data is key to higher education and research. The use of these elements is the basis for all knowledge transfers (education) and knowledge development (research). SURF signed the ‘Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities’ on 1 December 2004 and actively promotes open access in the Netherlands. SURF strives to ensure open access to scientific materials, based a standardised, coherent and interoperable approach.

Freely available scientific materials

The Berlin Declaration calls upon researchers to make their scientific materials freely available to all. They can do so via online repositories or open access periodicals. In addition to articles, they can also share raw data and research materials. In addition to consulting and distributing this information, users should be able to use these materials in derivative studies. This is subject to only one condition: stating the original author’s name. 

Open learning materials

Open learning materials, or open educational resources (OER), can play a crucial role in the transition to an education system that combines innovation, a tailor-made approach, high quality, cost-reduction and efficiency. OER stands for open educational resources (in the form of individual materials and entire courses) available for online use and reuse. These open resources may be copied, edited and distributed subject to specific conditions. 

Open teaching materials

A growing number of higher education institutions around the world are offering open access to their teaching materials. Governments are investing heavily in the development of open learning materials. This development is part of the global ‘open movement’. In 2011, SURF launched the Open Educational Resources innovation programme. The programme’s objective includes raising awareness and developing a clear vision on OER. Efforts are also made to stimulate the development, use and reuse of OER. Collaborations at a national level are organised within the Open Educational Resources Special Interest Group, an initiative facilitated by SURF. 

Open research data

In addition to accessible publications, SURF is working to ensure optimal open access to research data. Naturally, such open access must be based around the protection of personal data and commercial interests. SURF is conducting these efforts in collaboration with various organisations in the Netherlands and abroad, based on the ‘open where possible, closed where necessary’ philosophy. Free access to research data allows for the verification of results and efficient reuse of results in education and research. The combination of datasets also facilitates new forms of research. Collaborations at a national level are organised within the Research Data Special Interest Group, an initiative facilitated by SURF.

Open standards

SURF strives to apply open standards (where available) and promote their use. This will make it easier to collaborate and rule out dependency on any one supplier. In cases where no open standards are available, SURF will contribute to their development. 

Open source

SURF provides ICT services and negotiates advantageous terms for the use of software and services. As a result, higher education and research institutions gain access to high-end facilities. In many cases, the desired functionality can be achieved through either open or closed source solutions. Content considerations often determine the solution institutions choose for their own services and own use. The emphasis is on functionality, manageability, expandability and one-off and recurring costs. As regards the supply of software to the various participating institutions, SURF strives to offer various options. Both open and closed source alternatives are thus provided where possible. 

Reusable results

If no adequate open or closed source solutions are available, SURF can decide to develop software code or other materials. This approach is based on the idea that our services should not be restricted by current market supply. If the results are also of interest to parties other than the participating institutions, efforts are made to make them freely available and reusable for all (open source). SURF has made a great deal of software available through open source over the years.

SURF has collaborated on the following ‘open’ initiatives: 

  • e-InfraNet: European project responsible for exploring the ‘open’ landscape and advising the EC to apply ‘open’ as its standard for higher education and research 
  • OpenAire: infrastructure supporting open access to European research results
  • Open Access Week
  • Open Education Week
  • Mediamosa: middleware offering access to video platform 
  • Meresco: platform allowing users to gather, combine and distribute metadata 
  • IDS: infringement detection system
  • A-select: facilitates authentication in web environment
  • SecureW2: TTLS client, wireless security protocol
  • AIRT: web-based incident tracking system
  • TL1 toolkit: software suite for TL1 transaction language
  • PorPOIse: server for Layar clients
  • OpenConext: for creating and running Collaboration platforms
  • OpenDNSSEC: to manage security of domain names
  • Open DRAC: open source project (network control) 
  • FileSender: to send arbitrarily large files securely and easily 
  • tiqr: open source authentication solution
  • SoftHSM: cryptographic store PKCS #11 interface
  • HoneySpider: client honey pot system
  • Dionaea: to trap malware


Latest modifications 05 Jan 2017