Programs in The Netherlands


Science and Technology Information

Recent Science and Technology Initiatives:

In 2010 renewable energy accounted for just 4% of total Dutch energy consumption. In 2020 this percentage must have risen to 14. This increase must however take place in a economically responsible manner, according to the Dutch Government, and must not result in excessive costs. Innovation is necessary to enable renewables to compete with grey energy in the long term (2050 onwards). The Government wishes to help, not by offering expensive and ineffective operating grants, but by promoting innovation, among other things through the renewable energy incentive scheme.

The petrol currently available at the pump already contains a few percent of biofuel. This must increase to 10% by 2020, following the European Directive on Renewable Energy. This 10% may also be supplemented with other forms of renewable energy, such as sustainably generated electricity or biogas. The Netherlands has opted to gradually increase the percentage of biofuel at the pump over the coming years: a quarter percent in 2011 and 2012, and a half percent in 2013 and 2014. This provides more time to develop even more sustainable (second generation) biofuels (based on waste materials). At the same time the Government is promoting electric vehicles: by 2025 it hopes there will be a million electric cars on Dutch roads.

In the coming years, onshore wind will remain one of the most inexpensive ways of producing renewable energy. The Dutch target is 6000 megawatts installed power capacity from onshore wind turbines by 2020. Currently we have 2000 onshore wind turbines, providing only 4% of the total Dutch electricity requirement.

The Netherlands' flat and windswept countryside make it highly suitable for wind energy. The Government wants to greatly increase wind energy capacity in the coming years. Government policy increasingly aims for groups of wind turbines on carefully selected sites. Open landscapes where there is plenty of strong wind therefore take precedence (industrial and port areas, agricultural complexes, open water).

Two large windfarms are currently being developed in Flevoland (Zuidlob, link) and in the Noordoostpolder (NOP, link). The wind farm in the Noordoostpolder can supply 400,000 households (almost a million people) with electricity. This makes it by far the largest and most productive wind farm in the Netherlands.  

Offshore wind energy is still too expensive to play a significant role in our energy supply. This may change in the future, as innovation can greatly drive down costs.

There are currently two Dutch offshore wind farms, producing a total of 228 megawatts:

-The Near Shore Windpark lies off the coast of Egmond aan Zee. It has 36 turbines and a total output of 108 megawatt.

-The Prinses Amalia windfarm lies off IJmuiden, with 60 turbines and a total output of 120 megawatts.

The Rutte-Asscher government wants businesses and the public to use more renewable energy. In 2010 the share of sustainable or renewable energy in national energy consumption was 4%; our target is a 16% share for renewables by 2020. These measures will be taken with due regard for the competitiveness of energy-intensive sectors and the impact on jobs.


Education System

Education Finance

A central provision of the Dutch Constitution is that all schools, public and independent, are funded on an equal basis if they observe statutory regulations. This produces a large degree of school choice in the Netherlands.

Students up to the age of 16 attend school for free, with occasional supply fees. Students 16-18 pay annual tuition fees, though students from low-income families may apply for grants or loans between the ages of 16-27. In 2008, the Netherlands spent 5.6% of its GDP on education, just below the OECD average of 5.9%. The same year, the Netherlands spent $10,704 per student in all levels of education; this is higher than the OECD average of $8,831, but comparable to what many other small European countries spend.

School Management and Organization

The Dutch education system is unified, with national policy directives from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science impacting all localities, but school administration and management is decentralized, and the authority over schools is held at the municipal level.

Educational Structure

K-12 Education

Within general secondary education, there are two types of education: pre-university education (6 years) and senior general secondary education (5 years). Both types culminate with a national examination in 6-7 subjects. If the exam is passed, a diploma is awarded.

Before transition to higher education, pupils in the pre-university education stream must choose from one of the “flour clusters”: “culture and society”, “economics and society”, “science and health”, or “science and technology”. For admission to higher education, all requirements of the chosen cluster must at least be satisfied.

Students in the senior general secondary education are prepared, by graduation, for work of a subsequent study program. They can choose from two tracks: (1) school-based route with fulltime education, or (2) work-based route. Practical experience forms an important part of the training for both learning tracks.

Higher Education

A secondary education diploma is required for admission to higher education. Admission to a program at a research university requires the completion of the first year of higher professional education, and in some cases, additional requirements relating to the subjects taken.

In the Netherlands, there are three types of higher education institutions: (1) government-funded, (2) private, and (3) approved institutions. Government-funded institutions receive funds from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture, and Innovation and are entitled to award officially recognized degrees. Approved institutions receive no funding from the Dutch government, but may still award officially recognized bachelor’s of master’s degrees. These institutions may determine their tuition fees themselves. Private institutions are not covered by Dutch government regulations.

Research-oriented education is given at 14 Dutch research universities in the Netherlands, but collaboration with universities of applied sciences is becoming increasingly common. Most universities offer study programs in various disciplines, such as economics, law, medicine, language and culture, natural sciences and public administration. These colleges mainly offer undergraduate programs in liberal arts.

The Netherlands has a number of Institutes for International Education with a relatively small number of students. The study programs at these institutions were originally intended for people from developing countries who needed specific knowledge for their work. They currently offer a wide range of study programs in specific disciplines that in many cases lead to a master’s degree or PhD. There is often cooperation with Dutch universities.

level of education spending netherlands
(2007, in equivalent USD converted using PPPs for GDP, by level of education, public institutions only)
Source: OECD
netherlands educations system
Country module – the Netherlands
© Nuffic | 2nd edition January 2011 | version 3, October 2012