Dutch Education System

In the Netherlands an education is compulsory for children from the age of 5 to the age of 16 but most children start attending  school at the age of 4. After their 16th birthday students in the Netherlands are required to achieve a certain level of diploma before they are exempt of compulsory education, till they are 18 years. After this, an education is partially compulsory until students meet certain qualification requirements or until they turn 23.


Education in the Netherlands is divided in a few categories:


  1. Primary education (‘Basisonderwijs’)
    Starts at the age of 4
  2. Secondary education (‘Voortgezet onderwijs’)
    Starts at the age of 12
  3. Tertiary education, sub-divided in three different levels:
  • Middle vocational education or college (‘Middelbaar beroepsonderwijs’)
    • Divided in 4 sublevels
  • Higher vocational education or college (‘Hoger beroepsonderwijs’)
    • Bachelor degree
    • Engineer degree
  • University
    • Master degree

For more information about the school system in the Netherlands, visit the website of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap, OC&W).