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More than half of all Dutch people under the age of 45 have pursued higher education. But it seems that higher education is less accessible to students with a mental or physical disorder. The latter group includes deaf and blind students.

Among those people with no impairment issues, 54 percent studied in higher professional education (HBO) or research-oriented higher education (WO) and 41 percent ultimately graduated. Of people with an impairment, 48 percent entered higher education and 36 percent got over the finishing line.

So there is a difference of around five percentage points between people with and without a disorder, according to a report by Statistics Netherlands for the monitoring of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This relates to chronic or long-term disorders. Statistics Netherlands also makes a distinction between physical disorders, mental disorders and sensory impairments. The pattern can already be seen in the case of people with physical disorders: fewer of them enter higher education.

Moreover, students who are blind or deaf are much less likely to obtain a degree. Only 29 percent of them graduate. The figure is only fractionally higher for people with a mental disorder.

UN treaty

The Netherlands ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2016. The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights monitors the implementation of the convention. To that end the Institute uses quantitative indicators, including these statistics about the accessibility of higher education.

Around two million people in the Netherlands have a disability. The Convention aims to ensure that society does not put any unnecessary obstacles in their way. For instance, countries should ensure that education is fully accessible.

It is the third time that Statistics Netherlands has issued figures on this topic. The previous occasions were in 2012 and 2016. The present figures relate to the year 2020.