2,500 foreign university students come from countries without a VWO diploma

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2,500 foreign university students come from countries without a VWO diploma

About 2,500 students who started their education at a Dutch university in 2020 come from a country that does not have a diploma at the Dutch VWO level. The Education Inspectorate has calculated this in a fact sheet. A number of universities admit students from outside Europe who have had a previous education below VWO level. In the Netherlands, these students first follow a preparatory year, but even after that they may not have a diploma at pre-university level – although this is required by law. It is not clear exactly how many students this concerns. This is reported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Anyone wishing to start a university bachelor’s program in the Netherlands must legally have a diploma at pre-university level or a completed HBO propaedeutic certificate. This can be a problem for students from abroad, especially for certain countries outside the EEA (the European Economic Area: the European Union plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland). Some non-EEA countries do not have a diploma in their education system that is equivalent to the Dutch VWO diploma. It is then up to the institution to determine whether the diploma of the prospective student meets the level requirements.

no view

However, there is no clear national picture of the criteria on the basis of which institutions admit students from non-EEA countries. As a result, there is no insight into how many students enter with a diploma below pre-university education level.

Preparatory year

Some universities offer students from non-EEA countries with too low a level of prior education a preparatory year in order to eliminate deficiencies. According to the National Code of Conduct for Higher Education and the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, this is a ‘space interpretation’ of the intention of the preparatory year.

Education requirements

In 2020, the National Commission wrote a report about the preparatory year and its use among prospective students who do not yet meet the prior education requirements. In response to this, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science asked the Inspectorate to draw up a numerical overview of the intake of non-EEA students to university bachelor’s degree programmes, based on figures available from the Inspectorate. The now published overview shows how many students are entering from countries where there is no diploma equivalent to the Dutch VWO level. This information only gives an indication of how many students may study at Dutch universities without such a diploma.


The group of entrants into wo bachelor’s programs with possibly a diploma lower than vwo level makes up about 4.5 percent of the total influx; that is about 2,500 students. It also appears that this intake at certain programs and certain institutions is remarkably much higher than average.

Equal access opportunities

The Education Inspectorate considers it important that higher education offers equal access opportunities to both Dutch and international prospective students. Requirements for the intake level must therefore also be the same for both groups. According to the Inspectorate, the admission policy for international prospective students should not penalize Dutch HAVO students. Also, due to the limited number of places in fixus programmes, there should be no competition between candidates who do not meet the prior education requirements and those who do. This requires careful admission procedures by individual institutions.

By: National Education Guide

2,500 foreign university students come from countries without a VWO diploma
Source link 2,500 foreign university students come from countries without a VWO diploma

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