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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Higher education funding


3.Funding in education

3.2Higher education funding

Last update: 27 November 2023


All higher education institutions receive 1 budget each year from the national government for the costs of materials and personnel. This budget is called the lump sum. Institutions themselves determine how they spend the lump sum. The Education Inspectorate supervises the financial policy of educational institutions.

The institutions receive this lump sum for providing university and higher professional education bachelor and master programs, conducting research (wo) and design and development (higher professional education) and for research or for collaboration with academic hospitals. This concerns study programs that have been assessed and approved by the Dutch-Flemish accreditation organization (NVAO). This is called accreditation.

Educational institutions receive government funding for:

  • higher professional education (hbo);
  • university education (wo);
  • research (wo);
  • collaboration with academic hospitals (wo);
  • design and development (hbo).

Educational institutions receive a fixed amount from the Dutch government. In addition, they receive a variable amount, which depends on:

  • the number of enrollments in recognized bachelor's and master's programs within the nominal study duration. This is the time it takes students to complete their studies if they do not incur a delay in their studies;
  • the number of bachelors and masters completed for which a diploma has been awarded.

The central government sets the budget every year. The funding of universities of applied sciences and universities is specified in the WHW Implementation Decree 2008 and the Regulations on Financing Higher Education. Colleges and universities often receive money from companies or non-profit institutions for research. In addition, colleges and universities receive income from tuition fees.

Funding of teaching at universities and HBO institutions

The grant received by institutions for teaching activities is calculated chiefly on the basis of:

• the number of EEA students progressing with their studies at the standard rate

• the number of EEA students awarded bachelor’s and master’s degrees

• an institution-specific sum.

Research funding for universities and HBO institutions

The government also provides universities and HBO institutions with research funding. For universities, the size of the grant is largely allocated on the basis of the number of degrees awarded, including PhDs.

The central government grant is not the only funding source for universities and HBO institutions. They also receive support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), local and international authorities, and non-profit organisations.

Government funding for university medical centres

Through the universities, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science also funds teaching and research at the country’s eight university hospitals which, in combination with the faculties of medicine, constitute the university medical centres. Students of medicine study and acquire practical experience here.

Financial Autonomy and Control


All higher education institutions are free to decide how they use the funds allocated to them to meet their personnel, equipment and accommodation costs.

Control and supervision

The supervision of higher education is regulated by the Higher Education and Research Act (WHW) and the Education Inspection Act (WOT). All higher education institutions that receive government funding have to compile an annual report in which they account for their financial and other policies and inform the government about their education performance. The requirements to be met by annual reports are listed in the Guidelines for Annual Reports in Education.

The Education Inspectorate monitors the activities of school accountants, and describes the financial situation of the various education sectors in its annual Education Report.

Compliance with legislation

The Inspectorate monitors compliance with legislation by higher education institutions. The focus is on:

• teaching;

• supplying information about programmes of study;

• applying the admission requirements for new students;

• setting examinations;

• issuing certificates.

Its methods include investigating compliance with a specific aspect of legislation or carrying out spot checks at individual institutions, for example if reports of non-compliance have been received.

The Inspectorate investigates how governing boards and supervisory councils ensure detailed compliance with the relevant legislation. It also conducts studies on particular aspects of higher education, including at the Minister’s request.

Fees within Public Higher Education

Students in higher education pay tuition fees to the institution. At government-funded universities and HBO institutions, the fees are fixed for certain categories of student and are statutory or non-statutory, depending on the situation.

Every year, the government fixes the level of the statutory fees applicable to all higher education institutions. Individual universities and HBO institutions are free to set their own non-statutory fees, which may not be lower than the level of the statutory fees except in the case of joint degrees.

The statutory fee applies to students who:

• meet the nationality requirement, i.e. are nationals of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA), Suriname or Switzerland, or are family members of EU citizens residing in the Netherlands, or hold a residence permit entitling them to student finance; and

• are enrolled in a bachelor’s degree programme and at the start of the academic year have not yet obtained a bachelor’s or master’s degree; or are enrolled in a master’s degree programme and at the start of the academic year have not yet obtained their master’s degree; and

• are enrolled in a government-funded course at a university or institution of higher professional education.

If a student ceases to meet the residential/nationality requirements during the year, the institution may charge fees of its own.

The statutory fee also applies to:

• students who, after graduating, wish to obtain a second bachelor’s or master’s degree in either health care or education, and whose first degree is not in one of these fields. To establish what qualifies as a healthcare or education programme, potential students can consult the Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes (CROHO);

• students who have not yet obtained their bachelor’s or master’s degree and who start a second course while still doing their first course.

Students who do not meet these requirements pay non-statutory fees. These apply to full-time and part-time courses and dual courses combining work and study. Non-statutory fees may vary from one institution, course or student category to another. The Ministry issues no guidelines.


Tuition fee amounts

The following statutory tuition fees are charged for:

a. full-time courses:

• €2,209 for the 2022/2023 academic year

b. part-time courses or dual courses combining work and study:

• €1,315 to €2,209 for the 2022/2023 academic year. Fees are set by the institutions;


Tuition fee loans

Students must pay tuition fees to the institution they study at. If they need to, they can apply for a tuition fee loan in addition to regular student finance. This is a monthly loan equivalent to the amount of the tuition fees.

Financial Support for Learners' Families

Parents and guardians of higher education students are not eligible for financial assistance.

Financial Support for Learners

The basic grant ("basisbeurs") was abolished for students in higher education in the 2015/2016 academic year. Since then, new students no longer receive a grant from the government, but can apply for student finance in the form of a loan. Students who already started their study program before 1 September 2015 and received a student grant for that study are still entitled to a basic grant for that study program.

Under the current system, higher education students are eligible for student finance, provided they are under 30 when they begin their studies and attending a full-time course at a university or HBO institution. Student finance consists of: an interest-bearing loan, a supplementary grant and a public transport pass. All students are eligible for the interest-bearing loan and public transport pass.

The supplementary grant has to be applied for separately. The supplementary grant is intended for students with parents who can contribute little or less to the higher education of their child. The income of the parents is taken into account. These students can receive a maximum of € 396.39 per month. Students with brothers or sisters who study or go to school may also be entitled to this

The pubic transport pass and the supplementary grant are a so-called performance grant. They only become a gift under certain conditions:

- when a diploma is obtained for higher professional education or university

- when this diploma is obtained within 10 years. Those 10 years start from the 1st month that student finance is received for higher professional education or university.
If the diploma is not obtained, the performance-related grant must be reimbursed. This does not apply to the first 5 months of supplementary grant. These months of supplementary grant are not covered by the performance grant.


Portable financial assistance for study abroad

Since 1 September 2007 students eligible for Dutch student finance who want to pursue all or part of their studies abroad have been able to apply for financial assistance. This gives them maximum freedom to pick the course of their choice. However, all courses abroad must meet Dutch quality standards. The requirements are monitored by Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for international cooperation in higher education. Students do not need to be registered at a Dutch higher education institution in order to be eligible for a grant. However, irrespective of the nationality they hold, they must have been legally resident in the Netherlands for at least three of the six years prior to commencing their studies. This requirement does not apply to migrant workers or their children.


Private Education

There are two types of recognised higher education institutions in the Netherlands: those funded by the government, which are listed in the Higher Education and Research Act (WHW), and recognised fully private institutions that do not receive government funding. To be recognised, fully privately-funded higher education institutions need to be approved by the Education Inspectorate and the Netherlands-Flanders Accreditation Organisation (NVAO). The certificates they award to graduates are equivalent to those awarded by publicly-funded institutions.

The quality of individual higher education courses is monitored through the accreditation system, which is managed by the Netherlands-Flanders Accreditation Organisation (NVAO). Only courses approved and accredited by the NVAO are eligible for recognition and qualify for government funding. The Education Inspectorate monitors the functioning of the accreditation system as a whole. All legally recognised courses at universities and HBO institutions are listed in the Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes (CROHO).

Not being funded by government, fully private institutions are completely dependent on third-party contributions, including from students and their families. This means tuition fees are usually higher than at publicly-funded institutions. Fees vary from one institution to another. The boards of higher education institutions are free to decide how this income is spent.

Experimenting with an open system for higher education

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is currently experimenting with an open system for higher education, allowing fully privately-funded institutions to fund courses temporarily from government grants under the same conditions as publicly-funded institutions. The experiment is open to private institutions such as the distance-learning institutions LOI and NTI, which would not normally be eligible for central government funding

The purpose of the experiment is to investigate the effects of an open system on the quality and accessibility of higher education. A total of 18 educational institutions are involved. The study will continue until 2015 to enable long-term effects to be identified, such as those related to the labour market.