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Netherlands:Higher Education

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Overview Netherlands

Contents

Netherlands:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Netherlands:Historical Development

Netherlands:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Netherlands:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Netherlands:Political and Economic Situation

Netherlands:Organisation and Governance

Netherlands:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Netherlands:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Netherlands:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Netherlands:Organisation of Private Education

Netherlands:National Qualifications Framework

Netherlands:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Netherlands:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Netherlands:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Netherlands:Funding in Education

Netherlands:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Netherlands:Higher Education Funding

Netherlands:Adult Education and Training Funding

Netherlands:Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Primary Education

Netherlands:Organisation of Primary Education

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Netherlands:Assessment in Primary Education

Netherlands:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Netherlands:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Netherlands:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Netherlands:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Netherlands:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Netherlands:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Netherlands:Organisation of Vocational Secondary Education (MBO)

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Secondary Education (MBO)

Netherlands:Assessment in Vocational Secondary Education (MBO)

Netherlands:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Netherlands:Higher Education

Netherlands:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Netherlands:First Cycle Programmes

Netherlands:Bachelor

Netherlands:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Netherlands:Second Cycle Programmes

Netherlands:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Netherlands:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Netherlands:Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Distribution of Responsibilities

Netherlands:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Netherlands:Main Providers

Netherlands:Main Types of Provision

Netherlands:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Netherlands:Teachers and Education Staff

Netherlands:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Netherlands:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Netherlands:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Netherlands:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Management and Other Education Staff

Netherlands:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Netherlands:Management Staff for Higher Education

Netherlands:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Netherlands:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Quality Assurance

Netherlands:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Netherlands:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Educational Support and Guidance

Netherlands:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Netherlands:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Netherlands:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Netherlands:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Netherlands:Mobility and Internationalisation

Netherlands:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Mobility in Higher Education

Netherlands:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Netherlands:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Netherlands:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Netherlands:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:National Reforms in School Education

Netherlands:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Netherlands:National Reforms in Higher Education

Netherlands:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Netherlands:European Perspective

Netherlands:Legislation

Netherlands:Institutions

Netherlands:Bibliography

Netherlands:Glossary

Objectives
The government wants to ensure higher education is equipped to meet the demands of the future. Institutions for higher professional education (HBO) and universities need to become more specialised. Students must choose their courses of study carefully to reduce dropout and must complete their courses in a shorter time. In addition, HBO institutions and universities must tailor their courses more effectively to students’ varying requirements and the demands of the labour market. Accessibility is another key feature of the Dutch higher education system.

Government funding from the education budget is partly performance-based. Performance agreements have therefore been made with every HBO institution and university.

The goal of higher education is to educate people for today’s knowledge economy. This requires high-quality teaching. The Higher Education and Research Act (WHW) states that university education prepares students for the independent pursuit of scholarship or the professional application of academic knowledge and fosters interdisciplinary insight. The Act also states that higher professional education is geared to the transfer of theoretical knowledge and the development of skills directly relevant to the world of work. All higher education institutions are required to pay attention, among other things, to the personal development of their students and nurture in them a sense of social responsibility. For the full text of the Act in Dutch, go to Higher Education and Research Act.

Types of recognised higher education institution
There are two types of recognised higher education institution in the Netherlands:

  • universities and HBO institutions funded by the government, which are listed in the Higher Education and Research Act (WHW);
  • private-sector institutions that do not receive government funding. Their courses and the certificates they award to graduates are legally recognised after they have been approved by the Education Inspectorate and the Netherlands-Flanders Accreditation Organisation (NVAO).

For a fuller account of these institutions, see § 7.1, Types of Higher Education Institution.

Organisation of higher education
In higher education, the academic year officially begins on 1 September and ends on 31 August of the following year.
The bachelor-master system was introduced in 2002. The distinction between higher professional education and university education in terms of their respective goals remains. A bachelor’s programme at university takes three years (180 ECTS). A master’s degree takes one year (60 ECTS), or one and a half or two years (120 ECTS). Within the HBO system, all bachelor’s degree courses take four years (240 ECTS), and there are accredited master’s degree programmes in which 60 ECTS credits equate to 1,680 hours of study.

The introduction of the bachelor-master system and accreditation system is part of the move towards a common open system of higher education in Europe. Students have greater choice and can more easily pursue a master’s degree programme at a different institution (in the Netherlands or abroad) from the one where they obtained their bachelor’s degree.

In general, the higher education calendar is divided into four blocks. In each block, a student attends classes in a number of subjects and, as a rule, takes tests or examinations at the end of the block. The duration of lectures, tutorials and seminars is not fixed by law but is determined by the institutions themselves.

Higher education institutions usually consist of several faculties. A university faculty usually consists of related study programmes and research groups. The term ‘faculty’ is used by HBO institutions for their departments, which bring together related study programmes.
 
Academic calendar in Higher Education 2014/2015

Type of information Dates or periods
Beginning of the academic year  1 September 2014
Teaching activity and holidays   All periods of teaching activity and holidays are fixed by institutions.
Examinations  Institutions are entirely free to fix examination dates.
End of the academic year  31 August 2015
Public holidays
(occasional/national/religious holidays)
25 and 26 December 2014 (Christmas Days)
31 December 2014 (New Year’s Eve)
1 January 2015 (New Year's Day)
6 April 2015 (Easter Monday)
27 April 2015 (King’s Birthday)
5 May 2015 (Liberation Day)
14 May 2015 (Ascension Day)
25 May 2015 (Whit Monday)
Number of intervals:
Free for institutions to decide.
Length of intervals:
Free for institutions to decide.

Additional notes:
Higher Education and Research Act (WHW), article 1.1/definitions, k.: academic year: the period which starts on 1 September and ends on 31 August of the following year.
The academic year can be divided into a semester or a trimester. Institutions are free to decide how many weeks are used to teach and how many weeks are used for exams.
During the period of examinations, teaching activity stops so that students can work specifically for them.
Some courses also start in the course of the academic year, at 1 February.