Education System of Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands comprises four nations namely, the Netherlands in mainland Europe, and islands of Aruba, Sint Maarten and Curacao in the Caribbean along with 3 special municipalities namely the islands of Saba, Bonaire and Sint Eustatius. The Netherlands means the low countries because much of the land is situated either at or below the sea level. The Netherlands is also referred to as Holland.

the netherlands education systemThe Netherlands is spread over an area of 41,000 square kilometres and its population as of 2012 was 16,714,000 people, according to UNESCO. It's official name is the Kingdom of Netherlands and the form of government followed here is a constitutional monarchy with bicameral parliament. This country is the 10th biggest exporter in the world and the 16th largest economy, according to the Study in Holland official study portal. According to this portal, nearly 80% of the economy in this nation is service based.

Educational Statistics

Literacy Rate and Enrolment Ratio

The literacy rate in the Netherlands is 99.5 in 2012, according to UNESCO. According to a report issued by the Ministry of Education of this nation, number of participants in the education system has increased dramatically in recent times. In the school year from 2012 to 2013, greater than 3.7 million people were enrolled in education funded by the government. Holland is home to over 8,100 schools according to the report. The number of pupils and students who earned a diploma rose to 457,000 in 2012, as per the report.

Pre-Primary Education

Gross Enrolment in pre-primary education rose from 89.8% in 2011 to 90.9% in 2012. For males, the gross enrolment ratio was 89.5% in 2011 and 90.8% in 2012, according to UNESCO. For females, the gross enrolment ratio is 90% in 2011 and it rose to 91% in 2012.  Total net enrolment rate rose from 89.8% to 90.9% within 2011-2012. Male net enrolment rate increased from 89.5%(2011) to 90.8%(2012). Female net enrolment rate rose by 1% from 90% in 2011 to 91% in 2012. All these percentages are as per data provided by UNESCO.

Primary Education

 Gross enrolment ratio in primary education was 105.8%(UNESCO, 2012). Female gross enrolment ratio was 105.3% in the same year according to UNESCO while male gross enrolment ratio was 106.3%. Net enrolment rate was 98.4% in 2012 while it was 98.5% for females and 98.4% for males in 2012, as per UNESCO.

Secondary Education

Gross enrolment ratio in 2012 was 129.9%, according to UNESCO's Institute of Statistics. For the same year, female gross enrolment ratio was 128.7% while it was 131 for the males, (UNESCO). Net enrolment rate was 90.2% (UNESCO, 2012) with the rate being 90.8% for females and 89.6% for males.

Tertiary Education

 Gross enrolment ratio stood at 77.3% in 2012, as per UNESCO. For the same year, female gross enrolment ratio was 80.5% and male gross enrolment ratio was 73.7%.

Expenditure towards Education

Government expenditure on education is as percentage of GDP was 5.9% in 2012. As a percentage of total government expenditure, money spent on education was 11.8% (UNESCO, 2012). Government expenditure per student for primary school students in the Netherlands was 7986 USD while it was $11137.8 and tertiary education was 15758. 8 US dollars.

Pupil Teacher Ratio: Pupil teacher ratio was 14.8 in 2012 (UNESCO) for pre-primary schools in terms of number of pupils per teacher. In primary education, 11.5 students for every one teacher was found in 2012, according to UNESCO (2012). Pupil teacher ratio for secondary education was 13.9 students for every teacher.

Higher Education

the netherlands education system overviewAccording to a report issued by the Ministry of Education in the Netherlands, the number of Bachelor's degree students were pegged at 34,400 in the year 2011. Around 39,700 staff were employed in the universities and colleges in 2011, according to this report. Of this, 25,00 were professors while 20,000 were senior university lecturers. Around 43,000 were university lecturers. There are about 10 students for every one academic staff member in higher educational institutions in the Netherlands.

Why Study In The Netherlands

Around 26,271 students from non Dutch backgrounds attended professional higher education courses in Holland in 2012, according to a Ministry report. Of these, total Western non-native students were 11,870. From these, 9,966 students were from Europe, while 444 were from North America. 1,218 were from Asia and 239 were from Australia/New Zealand. There were 3 students from Oceania out of this. As far as academic education is concerned, around 11,283 non native students were admitted for higher education degree programmes in 2012. Of these, Europe's students were 9,788 and 584 were from North America. 751 students were from Asia, 154 were from Australia/New Zealand. Around 6 students out of the non native students in academic higher education were from Oceania.

Higher education in Holland is well known throughout the world. Each educational institution has a network of associations several of which are internationally oriented. The larger international student associations are AIESEC and Erasmus Student Network.

Many of the cities in Holland have student associations as well as a vibrant and dynamic life. Dutch higher education communities are part of society, not away from it, according to the official Dutch study portal Study in Holland. The cultural and recreational lives of the students will also be enriched through highest studies here. The Dutch entrepreneurial spirit is at the heart of many pioneering innovations and it instills strong creativity in the students as well.  

Dutch higher education rewards innovation. The Dutch way of education provides students with enough room to execute ideas. Consider the team of Dutch students who won the World Solar Challenge in Australia. The Dutch are known for their egalitarianism and respectful attitude towards other cultures as well. It s a wonderful place for to study and experience student life as international students. The Netherlands was also a venue for many of the research projects by Laureates such as Marie Curie and Andre Geim, according to Study in Holland. The famous Erasmus Mundus scholarship is taken from the name of well known Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus.


The Netherlands is a wonderful study destination for students who value innovation and creative freedom. The Dutch education system focuses on academic excellence coupled with development of social skills and a cultural vibrancy as well.
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