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Two-Year Associate Degree Program Popular Among Dutch Women

Many first year students in higher professional education (hbo) in the Netherlands in 2012/’11 who opted for the shorter two-year programme are graduates from senior secondary vocational education (mbo). They are relatively older than first year students in the regular four-year hbo programme, relatively more of them are women, and more of them choose the part-time curriculum according to figures released by Statistics Netherlands.

The option of a two-year hbo programme, which leads to an associate degree, was introduced in study year 2006/’07. These programmes were set up to give mbo graduates and people with a job more opportunities to get an hbo degree, and subsequently continue their education. In 2011/’12 over 1,500 students were enrolled in these two-year courses. Five years after the introduction, the inflow, over 500 irst year students, has grown to account for 0.5 percent of the total number of first year hbo students.

Sixty percent of students enrolling for the two-year hbo programmes have graduated from mbo. This is twice the percentage among first year students in the regular four-year bachelor programme, where most students come from senior general secondary education (havo) or pre-university education (vwo).

Slightly more women than men choose the two-year associate-degree program. In 2011/’12, 58 percent of first-year students were women. In the regular bachelor program this was 52 percent. Nearly half of first year students in the associate-degree program are 30 years or older, and only 5 percent are younger than 20. In the regular four-year program this is exactly the other way around.

First year students in the two-year programme were more likely than those in the four-year programme to choose the part-time and dual curricula. This corresponds with the target group for the associate degree: among others this option is intended for people who are already active on the labour market.