Vocational education shrinking as more young people choose university
Higher vocational education is expected to shrink considerably in the coming years as more young people opt for university studies. And that could eventually lead to less supply of vocational education, put pressure on the national coverage, and limit the opportunities for students who do choose this type of education, Maurice Limmen, chairman of the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, said to Trouw.
Higher vocational education (HBO) is expected to have about 10 percent fewer full-time bachelor’s students in six years. This is partly due to population development - there will be fewer young people in the coming years. But the trend to choose university rather than college also plays a significant role.
“The trend towards increasingly higher education is visible worldwide, but the way in which we have designed education in the Netherlands means that academic education is seen as the highest level here,” Limmen said. Formally, higher vocational education and scientific education are equal in the Netherlands. “But that is not how they are perceived.”
Fifteen years ago, 20 percent of pre-university students opted for higher vocational education. That has now dropped to 5 percent.
Limmen would like to expand further study options within HBO, such as with its own masters or Ph.D. track. “Our country is desperate for higher educated vocational professionals. In healthcare, education, IT, construction, and the energy transition. But the overlap of the university and higher vocational education makes the development of HBO masters difficult,” Limmen said. “We can end up in each other’s way, but we are working hard to prevent that.”