More and more people with higher education

According to Statistics Netherlands’ education  yearbook (available in Dutch only) an increasing share of the Dutch population is completing tertiary education. Women in particular account for this increase. Countries near the Netherlands have a considerably higher  overall level of education, partly because they also offer short courses in higher education. 

More higher educated people

More and more people in the Netherlands are completing higher education. In 2006 one quarter of 15-64 year-olds had a higher professional education (hbo) diploma or a university degree. Ten years previously this was still only one in five. The share of Dutch people with a basic qualification has also increased. This had risen from 60 percent in 1996 to two-thirds of 15-64 year-olds in 2006. 

Educational level of the Dutch population (15-64 years)


Increase for women

It is women in particular who are staying in education longer. In 2006, 24 percent of women aged 15-64 years had an hbo diploma or university degree, compared with 16 percent in 1996. In the same period the percentage of men with these diplomas and degrees increased from 22 to 26. The percentages with a basic qualification were also nearly the same for men and women in 2006. This means that women have now virtually caught up with men in terms of educational level.

Netherlands above EU average

In 2005, 81 percent of the age group 25-34 years in the Netherlands had a basic qualification. This is just above the EU average. In a number of countries near the Netherlands more young people have a basic qualification. In Sweden 91 percent of 25-34 year-olds had such a qualification, in Denmark 87 percent and in Germany 84 percent.

Percentage of 25-34 year-olds with a basic qualification, 2005


Longer programmes in Dutch higher education

The percentage of Dutch 25-34 year-olds with an hbo diploma or university degree is also above the EU average. Again in a number of neighbouring and near neighbouring countries this percentage is higher. One explanation for this is that short higher education programmes are on offer in these countries. The courses in the Netherlands are mostly long ones.

Percentage of 25-34 year-olds with a diploma in tertiary education, 2005


Robert de Vries and Daphne de Wit (Ministry of education, culture and science)