Higher Education System in the Netherlands

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Universities of applied sciences are very popular in the Netherlands. The so-called Hoger Beroepsonderwijs are called HBOs for short or simply Hogescholen. Here, students complete a practical course that prepares them for a specific job. Therefore they are similar to the concept of German universities of applied sciences or universities of applied sciences.

Internships and group projects are common components of the curriculum at these institutions. The Dutch Hogescholen maintain close contacts with business and future employers. Graduates work in a wide variety of fields such as trade and industry, healthcare or the public sector.

Like universities in the Netherlands, an HBO aims to put the results of its research into practice. In this way, the Dutch society benefits directly from the innovative developments at local universities of applied sciences.

Universities in the Netherlands at a glance

There are numerous HBOs in the Netherlands, a country that belongs to European Union according to transporthint. The Dutch state is currently funding 37 of them. These universities of applied sciences are members of a joint association called Vereniging Hogescholen. Further possibilities of financial support for the hogescholen in the Netherlands are tuition fees and third-party funding.

Studying at the Dutch University of Applied Sciences initially provides basic knowledge that students use to specialize in the further course. Compared to the mostly theoretical universities, this is particularly attractive for many applicants. The timetable is usually clearly specified.

As at the HAN University of Applied Sciences, lessons are mostly held in English and Dutch.

The main focus of the Hogescholen in the Netherlands is the bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree usually lasts a year longer than at universities and focuses more on one subject. The HBOs are particularly popular with prospective teachers, as regular work in schools ensures continuous practical relevance.

A bachelor’s degree from a university college in the Netherlands entitles in many cases to further studies at a Dutch university. Sometimes it is necessary to complete advanced courses before admission to the master’s degree. For German students it should be noted that a bachelor’s degree from a university of applied sciences in the Netherlands does not automatically qualify them for a master’s degree in Germany.

University Landscape in the Netherlands

The university landscape in the Netherlands is characterized by clarity and clear structures. Since the Dutch constitution enshrines the freedom of research and the autonomy of universities, many are based on a particular ideological conviction. For example, the Virje Universiteit Amsterdam is Protestant. At the same time, there are many neutral institutions, so that there is a very diverse university landscape in the Netherlands.

For many international students, compact courses and clear focus areas of the Dutch universities are the most important reasons for studying in the Netherlands. The different types of universities are geared to different degrees to the requirements of the local and global labor market.

The international orientation and high quality underline modern and innovative teaching in the Netherlands. For some courses of study with restricted admission, the Numerus Fixus is governed by state regulations governing the utilization of the universities. A large part of the student body comes from Germany and since 2011 Prof. Dr. Martin Paul successfully graduated from Maastricht University.

The types of universities in the Netherlands at a glance

The higher education landscape in the Netherlands is primarily divided into state and private institutions. They differ primarily in terms of their financing. The Dutch educational institutions themselves determine the mostly low admission requirements. As a rule, the different types of universities there offer a wide range of programs for short and long-term study visits. The courses at private universities are in many cases very specialized.

The following institutions can be found in the higher education landscape in the Netherlands:

  • Universiteiten : The universities in the Netherlands focus on scientific work and offer degrees from Bachelor to PhD.
  • HBOs (Hoger beroepsonderwijs): These universities in the Netherlands are similar to the universities of applied sciences in Germany. Close practical relevance enables a professionally oriented degree. The focus of the HBOs is on undergraduate programs.
  • Open Universiteit: This type of university offers distance learning courses. At the moment, the Open University of the Netherlands, with its headquarters in Heerlen, enables courses that are mainly held online.

The Dutch universities also often have special institutes with an international focus:

  • Liberal Arts & Sciences Colleges : Studying at these institutes corresponds to a kind of Studium Generale in English. In an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree, students specialize individually. They are similar to the Liberal Arts Colleges in the USA and impart a broad knowledge base.
  • Instituten voor Internationaal Onderwijs : These institutions at the Dutch universities offer numerous courses and degree programs in English.

Quality of research and teaching in the Netherlands

The teaching of the Dutch university landscape is predominantly based on the concept of “problem-based learning”. This enables high-quality teaching that caters to the individual needs of the students. Instead of lectures in which the students mostly passively get to know the subject matter, this form of teaching relies on active practical relevance.

For quality assurance in higher education in the Netherlands is Inspectie van het Onderwijs responsible. The authority checks the quality of teaching, compliance with educational laws and the correct spending by universities. The Code of Conduct guarantees international students a minimum quality standard.

A university or study program is accredited by the Dutch-Flemish accreditation organization NVAO ( Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatieorganisatie ).

In the Netherlands, the state finances accredited universities according to the number of students. So that everyone can afford a good education in the Benelux country, certain requirements apply to the educational institutions about the amount of tuition fees.

Internationalization of the Dutch higher education landscape

When it comes to internationally oriented teaching, the universities in the Netherlands are very well positioned. There are now many courses in English at Dutch universities.

The university system in the Netherlands is based since the Bologna reform to the European requirements for EU member states. Therefore, the degrees of the universities are comparable and easily transferable. A change of university is also relatively easy to implement, as long as students meet the other admission requirements.

Higher Education System in the Netherlands

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