Many students study longer than entitlement to government-funded duration

Starting from study year 2007/’08 the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is to introduce a new financing system in higher education, based on a fixed period of entitlement to government-funded education. The aim of this new scheme is to stimulate students to study more efficiently. At the moment 35 percent of university students coming from secondary school (vwo) have been at university for longer than the foreseen period of entitlement of 6 or 7 years.

University students’ entitlements to government-funded education

Two-thirds of first-year university students enrolled straight from secondary school (vwo). These first year students will be entitled to 6 years for courses with a duration of 4 years, and 7 years for courses with a duration of 5 years. When the students have used up these entitlements, the university no longer receives government funding for them. This means that universities will charge these students higher fees.

Performance better on 4-year than on 5-year courses

After a period of 6 years, the foreseen entitlement period, 48 percent of students who came from secondary school and had started a 4-year course at university in 1999 had graduated. The graduation rates differ for the various disciplines from 42 percent for humanities and arts, to 68 percent for education. Nearly 40 percent of students were still at university. 

Performance of university students from vwo after 6 years

For the 5-year courses, 55 percent of students coming to university from secondary school had graduated after 7 years. This percentage varied from 47 for engineering, manufacturing and construction to 68 for agriculture and veterinary science. Around 30 percent had not yet graduated after 7 years.

Performance of university students from vwo after 7 years

Students with a foreign background take longer Native Dutch university students graduate more quickly than students with a foreign background. Forty percent of university students with a foreign background who had started a 4-year course in 1999 had graduated within 6 years, for native Dutch students this was 50 percent.

Performance of university students from vwo after 6 years, by ethnic background

Kasper van der Heide and Theo van Miltenburg