Nearly 70 percent of all students obtain their bachelor’s diploma within four years. That’s up sharply from previous years. Five years ago, only 56 percent graduated within that same period. This is revealed by VSNU figures.

According to the university association, students are more often choosing the right programmes through mandatory early registration and extensive study choice activities. Furthermore, universities seem to have taken effective measures to raise the pace of study.

The most important explanation for the higher study success rates is that, since 2012, students must have their bachelor’s diploma in order to start a master’s programme. They can no longer delay their bachelor’s thesis or final examinations while also taking master’s courses at the same time.

Switchers and dropouts

The VSNU only counts students who remain in university education following the first academic year, even if at another university or in another programme. This therefore includes students who complete the programme of their initial choice with a couple months’ delay, but also switchers who, for example, after a year of studying law go on to complete a bachelor’s in psychology in three years.

Not all first-year students remain at the university by any means. During the course of a study programme, 2 to 3 percent of students say goodbye to Dutch education. A somewhat larger proportion of students switch to higher professional education (HBO), though this is less often the case than previously. Of the 2011/2012 cohort, 7 percent left for HBO programmes, compared to just 4 percent of the 2014/2015 cohort.


Each university has made its own performance agreements with the Ministry of Education regarding the pace of study and student dropouts in the first year, etc. In the autumn, it will become clear which universities have met their objectives.