The Dutch factor: Exploring the Bicycle capital of the world Netherlands

The Dutch factor: Exploring the Bicycle capital of the world Netherlands


The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a small country in North West Europe, bordered by Germany, Belgium and the North Sea. It is often referred to as ‘Holland’ because two of its twelve provinces, North and South Holland, were independent states until 1813. With more than 20% of its land area under water, the title ‘the Netherlands’- which is Germanic for ‘lowlands’ – aptly reflects the country’s geography. It is one of the world’s most densely populated countries (16.8 million inhabitants) and the largest and most important cities are the capital Amsterdam, The Hague, which is the seat of government, and Rotterdam, home to Europe’s largest port. The Netherlands began life as a republic, when it became one of the world’s most powerful maritime trading nations, but is now a constitutional monarchy. It is considered to be one of the driving forces behind the formation of the European Union and the UN, with The Hague being home to the International Court of Justice. The country also enjoys a reputation for artistic brilliance on a par with Italy, producing legends such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Vermeer.

The Dutch Education system

Netherlands has one of the oldest and most organized education systems in the world, segregated as Primary, Secondary and higher education.

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.

Primary education

Primary education is intended for children in the age group 4 to 12 and is compulsory for children from the age of 5.

Bilingual primary schools

Most primary schools still teach in Dutch, but there are some bilingual primary schools. At these schools children are taught in English for 30% to 50% of the day, from age 4. This type of education is currently being researched in a pilot with 17 Dutch primary schools.

Secondary education

At the age of 12 children go to one of the following types of secondary education:

Preparatory vocational secondary education (vmbo) - 4 years in duration

Senior general secondary education (havo) - 5 years in duration

University preparatory education (vwo) - 6 years in duration

Higher education:

There are two types of higher education in the Netherlands: research-oriented and profession-oriented:

Research-oriented education (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, WO) is traditionally offered by research universities.

Higher professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO) is offered by universities of applied sciences (hogescholen).

Programmes at universities of applied sciences prepare students for particular professions and tend to be more practically-oriented. They lead to either a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Programmes at research universities focus on theoretical aspects of the field of study and prepare students for undertaking independent research. These also lead to a bachelor’s or master’s degree. At research universities you can also pursue a PhD degree.

Education in numbers:

Netherlands has some of the oldest universities in the world, dating as far back as the 17 Century! Boasting a total of 25 prestigious public institutions, and 10 privately funded universities, Netherlands is as lucrative a destination for academic perusals as anywhere.

As of 2018, there were roughly 6,200 elementary and 640 secondary schools in Netherlands.

Wage structure

Salaries at Dutch universities are set at the national level and listed in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO-NU). An academic’s place on the salary scale (which can be found on page 80 of the CAO-NU) is determined by their position, qualifications, and experience.

A universitair hoofddocent is equivalent in rank to an associate professor. Traditionally to become a universitair hoofddocent, a universitair docent had to apply for a vacant position. However it is now possible to be promoted to this position based on performance. This is a permanent position and it is not uncommon to remain a universitair hoofddocent until retirement.

The salary scales for a universitair hoofddocent ranges from €4,911 to €6,567 per month (scale 13 and 14) depending on qualifications and experience level.

Why you need to pick Netherlands:

The bicycle capital of the world, The Netherlands (or Holland) may be a small country, but it’s packed with world famous icons. Discover the bulb fields, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, canals of Amsterdam, masterpieces of Old Masters, Delft Blue earthenware, innovative water-management and of course, millions of bicycles!

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