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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Adult education and training funding


3.Funding in education

3.3Adult education and training funding

Last update: 27 November 2023


Adult education

The government wants to enable a large, adult group of functional illiterate people to follow adult education and training. Therefore municipalities provide courses that help people to improve their literacy, numeracy and (basic) digital skills.

Municipalities receive over € 60 million (annually) from the national government to buy education courses from the providers of their choice. The funding goes to the central municipalities of the labor market regions and is distributed based on a distribution formula. The number of low-skilled, immigrants and recipients of social assistance in a region determines the budget received by the central municipality of these labor market regions.

VAVO (Adult general secondary education)

The government makes approximately € 62 million available directly for VAVO provided at the ROCs (Regional Training Centres) in the form of block funding. This budget for VAVO institutions is divided by three criteria:

  1.   Number of registered students
  2.   Number of subjects marked with ‘sufficient’
  3.   Number of diplomas

Fees Paid by Learners

Adult education

Municipalities determine whether the course is free or whether a contribution is expected. For courses in literacy, numeracy and digital skills, municipalities usually cover the expenses of participants. For Nt2 (Dutch as a second language) exams, students have to pay a fee.

NT2 state examination fees

The fees for these Nt2 state examinations are €50 per test. The examination fees for the four tests (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) amount to €200. The fees will normally be paid by the individual candidate but in principle they may also be paid by the school or training institute, the municipal social services or a refugee organisation.

VAVO (Adult general secondary education)

In addition to the national funding from the government, adult participants (18 years and older on 1 August of the year in which the course starts) in VAVO pay course fees. The exact amount depends on the intensity of the course and on the participant's age.

Fees for full-time VAVO courses

A participant pays tuition fees if the study program has a study load of at least 850 hours per school year that are spent on following classes. For the 2022/2023 academic year, the fee is as follows:

2022/2023 - €1.239

Fees for part-time VAVO courses

Course fees are also charged if the student is attending a part-time course (less than 850 classroom hours per year) in adult general second education and is aged 18 or above. The regulation 'setting tuition and course fees' determines the tariffs annually. They are approximately € 0,82 per 45 minutes of education.

Financial Support for Adult Learners

Adult education

The municipality usually pays (part of) the education or training costs. For example, if the participant has not obtained a qualification and is long-term unemployed.

Sometimes the fees are paid by an employer, for example if being able to read and write in Dutch enables the participant to perform better in their job.

VAVO (Adult general secondary education)

Students in VAVO can receive an allowance for educational expenses. In order to receive this, a student must live in the Netherlands and must follow full-time training in adult general secondary education (one year or  two years VMBO, HAVO and VWO). Furthermore, the student must be between 18 and 30 years old.

This funding is designed to offset the cost of, for instance, books and school fees. It does not include a student travel pass. The allowance consists of a loan and in some instances a supplementary allowance. For more information, see Financial support for students in secondary education.

Private education

Private primary education is not financed by government. In the Netherlands, anyone may establish a school based on their own religious or ideological beliefs or educational principles.

Not being funded by government, private schools are completely dependent on third-party contributions, including pupils’ families. This means fees are usually higher than the parental contribution at publicly-funded schools. However, fees vary from one institution to another.

Adult education

There are several private providers for basic skills education and training. Municipalities receive over € 60 million (annually) from the national government to buy education courses from the providers of their choice.

VAVO (Adult general secondary education)

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has established a register of all private schools for adult general secondary education. The register of private (i.e. non-government-funded) (only available in Dutch) educational institutions lists all recognized providers of adult education. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science publishes this register annually at the start of the school year.