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Universities are committed to making research university education accessible

Universities want to be accessible to a wide range of people. Rather than their origins, it should be the talents and capabilities of students that determine whether they can undertake and complete a university education.

Themes:
Dutch higher education is extremely accessible
Guaranteeing equal opportunities requires constant attention
Universities work hard to enable transfers from professional to research degree programmes
 

Dutch higher education is extremely accessible


Compared with other European countries, Dutch higher education is extremely accessible. There is no other country where so many young people from low-income families have obtained degrees in higher education.

 

 

Guaranteeing equal opportunities requires constant attention

 

Universities do their best to give all prospective students equal opportunities to access Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes. Specific attention has been devoted to Bachelor’s degree programmes with an enrolment restriction, university colleges and selective Master’s degree programmes.

Due to limited teaching capacity or limited demand from the labour market, a number of Bachelor’s degree programmes set a maximum for the number of students admitted. This applies to Medicine, for example. Within the limits of the statutory framework, the degree programmes themselves determine which students they will admit and which they will reject. For example, they are not allowed to select purely on the basis of marks obtained in pre-university education. Universities try to organise the admission procedure in such a way that students with similar qualities have a similar chance of being admitted. Recent studies (Dutch) show that the universities have largely succeeded in this aim.


In 2017, the VSNU started a course in ‘effective and inclusive admission policies’. It enables universities to exchange knowledge and experience about the careful shaping of admission procedures for Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes.
 

 

Universities work hard to enable transfers from professional to research degree programmes


In the Dutch education system, students are divided into different educational levels at a relatively early stage – at the start of secondary school. The diagram below shows that for many students, this division determines the rest of their educational career. First-year Bachelor’s students at universities of applied sciences primarily come from senior general secondary education (HAVO) and first-year Bachelor’s students at research universities mainly come from pre-university education (VWO).

 


The early division makes it all the more important for students to be able to transfer to another educational level at a later stage. Universities therefore offer bridging programmes to students who have completed a Bachelor’s degree at a university of applied sciences and want to transfer to a Master’s programme at a research university. Each year, more than 5,000 students take advantage of this opportunity. Although the importance of these bridging programmes for accessible higher education is widely acknowledged, universities receive no funding for the programmes from the central government. The VSNU is therefore working hard to secure better funding for such programmes.