Expat Survival Guide 2021 - The Netherlands

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• Most secondary schools combine multiple levels in the first year (brugklas). • VMBO: A four-year prep school for vocational secondary education. Those who achieve the highest level (theoretische leerweg) can enter HAVO studies in the 4th year. They must continue studying until age 18, or until they obtain a basic qualification (minimum MBO level 2). • MBO: Secondary vocational education. MBO programmes vary from one to four years. If a student has successfully completed the Dutch VMBO, or the international middle school programmes IGCSE, or IB-MYP, but is not admitted to the IB-Diploma Programme, the MBO can prepare pupils for work or University of Applied Sciences (HBO) if level 4 is achieved. A number of English-language programmes are offered. • HAVO (five years): Senior general secondary education. Provides entrance to University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool/HBO), or 5VWO. • VWO (six years): Pre-university education. Prepares students for academic studies at a research university (WO). VWO schools can be athenaeum, or gymnasium, the main difference being that Ancient Greek, Latin and Classical Studies are core subjects in gymnasium programmes. BILINGUAL EDUCATION (TWEETALIG ONDERWIJS TTO)

HIGHER EDUCATION • Third-level education is offered at a vocational level (HBO, a “university of applied sciences” or hogeschool) and at an academic level (WO, at a universiteit). • Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are available at both HBO and WO institutions, but only universities offer PhD programs. Nuffic (Netherlands organisation for international cooperation in higher education; www.nuffic.nl) includes extensive information about the Dutch higher education system. • There is a small, third branch of higher education offering international education (IE), comprising advanced courses suited to international students. • Institutions are either government-funded, or governmentapproved. HBO • Nearly half a million students are enrolled at “universities of applied sciences” or hogescholen/HBO that provide practical-based four-year programs. • Here, students prepare for particular professions in one of seven sectors: agriculture & food, natural sciences & technology, economics, business administration & law, healthcare, fine & performing arts, education/teacher training and social studies. • For more information visit www.hbo-raad.nl.


• There are over 130 schools with a TTO bilingual stream, most of them being offered at VWO level. Only students that master the Dutch language at an appropriate level will be admitted. More information you can find on the Nuffic website.

• English is a compulsory subject at all secondary schools. VMBO pupils study one modern language, and HAVO/ VWO pupils at least two. Other core areas include Dutch, mathematics, history, humanities, sports, arts and sciences. • Like primary schools, some secondary schools are based on a religion, or an educational philosophy.



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