There seems to have been an error in the mathematical model, an annotation that was put in the spotlight by the General Union of Education (AOb) this week reveals. AOb-director, Douwe van der Zweep, finds this painful: “When projections are too low, it means that you are always playing catch-up with the facts, and then you have to wait and see whether the government will make the retrospective adjustment.”

Breaking the trend

The error has now been corrected, resulting in a break in the trend. The Ministry’s mathematical wizzes are now forecasting 27,500 additional higher vocational students and 25,700 additional university students for the year 2026. It’s a difference of a few hundred million euros.

The error had to do with emigration and deaths. Whoever moves abroad or dies is no longer completing an education here. The models should take this into account, but they actually did this twice: when calculating the number of ‘school leavers’ as well as population growth or shrinkage.

This meant that the forecast was always too low. The error has been factored in since 1995, the Ministry informed the AOb.


There are always unknowns when forecasting student numbers, particularly in a crisis period. We will have to wait and see exactly what influence the coronavirus crisis will have on student numbers, the Ministry’s baseline forecast indicates. In addition, the attendance of foreign students is not always easy to predict.

studenten corona universiteitsbibliotheek studeren ub campus mondkapje – Levien Willemse

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