Education level in Dutch population increasing

The average education level in the Dutch population increased in the period 1996-2003. The educational gap between both sexes narrowed, but the gap between the various age groups remained intact, although the education level of older people improved slightly. Turks and Moroccans are still the lowest-educated groups in the Netherlands, but the sharpest increase in education level was recorded in these two ethnic groups.

One quarter are highly educated

In 2003 one quarter of the Dutch population in the 25-64 age bracket had completed an education at vocational college or university level compared with just over 20 percent in 1996. The proportion of low-educated dwindled in the period 1996-2003 from 40 to 30 percent.

Proportion of highly educated men and women (aged 25-64)

Men still higher educated

In 2003 three in every ten men held a vocational college or university degree. The rate for women was approximately 25 percent, but the gap is closing. The share of low-educated women diminished and, at the same time, the share of female secondary school graduates increased.

Proportion of low-educated by age category

Education level of older people is slightly rising

The share of low-educated persons is highest in the 55-64 age group. The largest disparity in the number of low-educated people is found between the 25-34 and 55-64 age groups. There are substantially fewer low-educated people in the 25-34 age bracket and more secondary and higher educated. The outflow of low-educated older people and the inflow of highly-educated young people pushes up the average education level in the population. The educational gap between the eldest and the youngest group was narrowed down in recent years.

Proportion of highly-educated 25 to 64 year olds by ethnic background

Surinamese highest-educated foreigners

The education level in the native Dutch population is evidently higher than in the non-native population. Over a quarter of native Dutch were graduated from vocational colleges or universities in 2003, whereas the rate for non-natives was only 18 percent. There are outstanding differences between the various groups of non-western foreigners. Surinamese and Antilleans are the best-educated non-natives. Nearly one in five were graduated from vocational colleges or universities in 2003. The corresponding rate for Turks and Moroccans was less than one in ten. On the other hand, the sharpest increase in education level was recorded in these two ethnic groups.

Tanja Traag