Dutch higher education has a binary system, which means that a distinction is made between academic oriented education (Research Universities) and higher professional education (Universities of Applied Sciences).
Study programmes at Research Universities are divided in a Bachelor’s programme of 3 years (180 ECTS), followed by a Master’s programme that lasts 1 year (60 ECTS), 2 years (120 ECTS), or 3 years (180 ECTS), depending on the specialization. This can be followed by research for a doctor’s degree (PHD).
Study programmes Universities of Applied Sciences are also devided in a Bachelor’s programme lasting 4 years (240 ECTS), followed by a Master’s programme of 1 year (60 ECTS), or 2 years (120 ECTS), depending on the specialization. A Master’s degree obtained at a University of Applied Sciences can give admission to a doctoral programme (PHD).
The main differences between a Bachelor degree from a Research University and a Bachelors degree from a University of Applied Sciences, are the following:
- A Bachelors study at a University of Applied Sciences normally takes one year longer to complete than a Bachelor at a Research University. The main reason is the fact that a student during his Bachelor degree studies at a University of Applied Sciences not only studies, but also spends time for “on the job training”, through internships/work placements at companies/organizations.
- Obtaining a Bachelors degree from a Research University, is seen as a first milestone towards a Masters degree, which is regarded as the completion of the studies. A student from a Research University with just a Bachelors degree, is therefore seen as someone who has not finished his studies and consequently has considerably less opportunities in the labor market. This is the reason why 87% of the Bachelor students at Dutch Research Universities, continue their studies towards the Master degree.
- Obtaining a Bachelor degree from a University of Applied Sciences, is regarded as having completed your studies and being fully qualified for starting your professional career. This is the reason why only 20% of the Bachelor students at Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences, continue their studies towards the Master degree.
For the year 2015, 80 % of the Bachelors graduates of a Dutch University of Applied Sciences, found a suitable job in their specific field and level, within 3 months of obtaining their diploma.
With the Dutch economy recovering and growing at a fast pace in 2017, these indicators for the Universities of Applied Sciences are expected to have improved significantly in 2018. In fact, for some fields of study, students of Universities of Applied Sciences are at the moment already offered suitable jobs before graduating.