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Assessment in vocational upper secondary education (MBO)


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.9Assessment in vocational upper secondary education (MBO)

Last update: 27 November 2023

Assessment and progression of students

Schools are responsible for assessing their students, based on the requirements in the occupational standards. The method of assessment during the period of practical training is set out in the workplace training contract. Some of the degrees in the vocational training pathway (BOL) can be taken part-time.



Every MBO degree leads to a specific occupational qualification. Since 1 August 2016 students also have the opportunity to obtain one or more optional modules, which reflect additional skills or competences. The requirements that students have to meet in order to qualify are set out in an occupational standard. Each standard describes:

  • the qualification level
  • the job role, core activities and work processes, and the results of these activities
  • requirements relating to competences, skills and knowledge
  • requirements relating to behaviour and attitude
  • the required degree of responsibility and autonomy.

MBO degrees must be occupation-oriented. This means degree content must match the occupational standards.

  • All the occupational standards together form the occupational qualification framework (BKS).
  • The Centre for Cooperation between Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (SBB) is responsible for developing the occupational qualification framework and keeping the occupational standards and optional components up to date.
  • The Minister of Education, Culture and Science approves the occupational standards and optional components (including for courses that fall under the Ministry of Economic Affairs).



The primary responsibility for student assessment rests with the institutions themselves. This results in closer cohesion between teaching and assessment, and allows for flexibility and a tailored approach. It is up to the individual institution to decide on the form that assessment should take, within the statutory frameworks.

MBO degrees are divided into a general component, an occupation-specific component and an optional component. Students must receive a positive assessment on the first two components in order to obtain their MBO degree. Assessment of the optional component does not yet count towards the degree.

 The general component consists of:

  • Dutch
  • arithmethic
  • English (only for students at middle-management/specialist training level), and
  • career and citizenship education.

For the first three subjects, students must also sit a national examination.

Schools must ensure that, for each degree, they assess all the requirements set out in the relevant occupational standard and optional components. Institutions thus bear primary responsibility for the quality of the assessment instruments, for making any necessary improvements and for public accountability.

The Inspectorate of Education supervises the quality of assessment and checks that schools observe government standards relating to what is assessed, the level of complexity, and the assessment procedures followed. Should an assessment not meet the required quality standards, the Inspectorate will issue a formal warning to the institution in question. If the institution fails to make the necessary improvements within the time limit set by the Inspectorate, the Minister of Education may decide to revoke its authorisation to carry out student assessments. In this case, the institution must contract an authorised third party to carry out the entire assessment process on its behalf.

Institutions may outsource student assessment to an authorised third party. Under the Adult and Vocational Education Act (WEB), institutions that do this delegate full responsibility for the assessment process to this third party. They may take this step if they are unable to guarantee the quality of their own assessment or for efficiency reasons, for example, if there are only a small number of students taking a course. Delegating assessment to a third party is compulsory if the institution loses its authorisation to carry out student assessments.


New developments

New, stricter rules on the tasks and composition of examination committees in secondary vocational education came into force on 1 August 2017.