Education in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is in the top five for the best education systems in the world, which bolsters its reputation as a surefire investment location for foreign companies. From Groningen to Amsterdam, from Rotterdam to Maastricht and everywhere in between, Dutch knowledge institutions attract local and international students alike. This world-class education system keeps the talent pipeline full and sets the country apart from others in more ways than one.

Levels of the Dutch education system

Education is compulsory in the Netherlands between the ages of 5 and 16. The instruction language is Dutch, but more and more schools and universities teach in English. Children in the Netherlands get 8 years of primary education, 4, 5 or 6 years of secondary education (depending on the type of school). After secondary school they can go on to vocational education or higher education. There are both public and private institutions at all levels of the education system; the private institutions are mostly based on religious or ideological principles.

World-class knowledge institutions

The Netherlands’ education ecosystem thrives with top-tier institutions and progresses in a way that prepares students for working live through both vocational education and training (VET) as well as higher education. Higher education in the Netherlands consists of research-oriented and profession-oriented education. Together, the Netherlands’ vocational and higher education pathways create an ecosystem of talented professionals that are skilled in a variety of disciplines, ranging from IT to life sciences and everything in between.

Home to 14 universities, 34 professional education universities and a variety of specialized training facilities, the Netherlands has one of the top five education systems in the world. The Delft University of Technology is a top 20 university for engineering and technology. Eindhoven University of Technology ranks as the third most influential center for scientific research in Europe. Utrecht University, the University of Groningen, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Leiden University all rank in the top 100 of global university rankings. These institutions and others welcome over a million students each year enrolled in technological, health and other applied science programs.

In addition to educating students, these universities also lead research and innovation initiatives that benefit industries. Students and researchers at Wageningen University, for example, are paving the way in agrifood innovation, defining approaches and ideas that will lead to a more sustainable future. New ideas and research fuel the nation’s reputation as one of the world’s most competitive nations according to IMD.

Developing a multilingual and talented workforce: lifelong learning

The Dutch education system and business community support one another. The Netherlands’ education and training system focuses on meeting the needs of today’s businesses and keeping the economy competitive by graduating a steady stream of highly skilled workers. As a result, businesses in the Netherlands benefit from the assurance that a skilled workforce is ready when they need it. This also means that businesses, in turn, can focus on further developing talent and students can continue to grow in the workplace.

Highly skilled graduates also bring more than just learned lessons to the workforce. Dutch graduates are known to develop excellent English skills, making them undeniably competitive and prepared to contribute to globalized industries. Having educated employees who are also excellent multilingual communicators is among the strongest factors for foreign businesses looking to relocate to the Netherlands. Together, the education system and business community make the Netherlands a favorable choice for companies seeking an educated workforce.


"The school system works well with the government to make available enough spots at international schools for those moving as a result of a company relocation." David Hyman General Counsel, Netflix International

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