The Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education
Facts: the Netherlands and education
View background information about the Netherlands and its education.
Country: the Netherlands is officially part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, an independent country which also comprises 3 other constituent countries: Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten made up part of the Netherlands Antilles until their dissolution in 2010. The Netherlands has since governed the other Netherlands Antilles islands as (special) municipalities: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. Please note: the education of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, also referred to as the BES islands, is described under Education system Curaçao, just like the education of Sint Maarten. For information about education in Aruba, please see Education system Aruba.
Responsible for education: the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap – OCW) is largely responsible for education funding, sets general education policy and determines the broad frameworks in terms of admission requirements and the structure and objectives of the education system. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy are also involved in substantive aspects of higher education.
Member of the European Union: the Netherlands has been a member of the EU since 1958. Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Dutch municipalities in the Caribbean are not part of the EU.
Bologna process: the bachelor's-master's degree structure was successfully implemented into the Dutch higher system in September of 2003. Higher education has since been structured around 3 stages, although the distinction between WO and HBO education still exists. The Dutch higher education system also implemented the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Further information can be found on the EHEA website.
International treaties: the Netherlands signed the Lisbon Recognition Convention in 2002 and ratified it in 2008. The Netherlands has also signed various multilateral agreements, mainly at European level, on the recognition of study programmes and qualifications. The Netherlands has signed agreements on the recognition of higher education qualifications with various countries, including Germany and Austria.
Benelux decision: on 18 May 2015, the ministers of Education of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg approved the decision to mutually recognise bachelor’s and master’s diplomas obtained in Benelux countries at the systemic level. This means that a bachelor/master in one country is equal to a bachelor/master in another country. This gives holders of diplomas the legal certainty that their diploma will be recognised at the correct level. See also: Beschikking van Benelux Comité van Ministers (PDF).
Compulsory education: ages 5 to 16 years. Note: youth between 16 and 18 years of age have a qualification requirement (kwalificatieplicht), which means that they have to go to school until they have obtained a diploma (basic qualification/startkwalificatie) or have reached the age of 18.
Language of instruction: secondary education: mostly Dutch. There are also schools that offer bilingual education (tweetalig onderwijs, TTO). Higher education: Dutch or English. A current overview of English-taught programmes can be found on the Study in Holland website.
School year: August to July (varies depending on the region).
Final exams for secondary education: May and June.