Starting the next school year, school students can follow an accelerated pre-university education programme. At present, 24 schools across the Netherlands plan to introduce the programme, including Marnix Gymnasium in Rotterdam and Calvijn Comprehensive School in Vreewijk.

The programme is intended for pupils who feel insufficiently challenged by the regular pre-university education (vwo) curriculum. These students will be allowed to complete the onderbouw (Years 1, 2 and 3) in two years rather than the usual three. While it is already possible for school students to obtain their vwo diploma within a term shorter than six years, this is still far from common.

“We do have a few students here who have graduated from pre-university education earlier than usual – often when they were 15 or 16,” says pre-university/academic higher education coordinator Gerard Hogendoorn. “As a rule, we do not offer them more support than students enrolling in university at the age of 18. Of course, we do give them additional assistance should they require it – from a student psychologist, for example.”

Far from regular student life

In many cases, these students do not have a regular student life. “It can occasionally cause problems socially. For example, these students don’t tend to join a student society that often – in many cases because they wouldn’t be allowed to drink alcohol anyway,” says Hogendoorn.

But EUR also has a solution for pupils who haven’t finished pre-university programme yet, but really can’t wait to get started on the academic curriculum. Hogendoorn: “At Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), for example, vwo students can attend subjects while they’re still in secondary school. They can ‘cash in’ the credits they earn for these subjects later on, when they start as full-time students.”