Both at universities of applied sciences and universities, many students still stumble after their first year. This becomes clear from the latest figures about ‘early leavers from education’ that have been compiled at the request of the House of Representatives.

In 2014, for example, 45,000 people started on a degree programme at a university. Of this intake, five percent (i.e. 2,250 students) quit studying within the year (see diagram). In other words: they didn’t switch programmes, but dropped out of higher education altogether.

But that’s only half the story. Further down the road, another 5,000 students threw in the towel – a significantly higher total than in the first year.

The trend is even more pronounced in higher professional education (hbo). In 2014, 94,000 students started on a degree programme at a university of applied sciences. One year later, 15,000 had dropped out. Another 34,000 hbo students quit in the years that followed. Once again, we’re not talking about switching between programmes – these students have quit higher education full stop.

Incidentally, some of them may not have left for good. In some cases the student is simply taking a break and can be expected to re-enter higher education later on. The Ministry has also pointed this out, warning that such cases have contributed to slightly higher drop-out rates.