Success rates university study programmes

As of 2023, the policy of the Minstery of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) with regard to the provision of data has changed. As a result, UNL can no longer report on this topic and cannot refresh the data. UNL regrets the situation, which is not in the interest of the sector. UNL is negociation with OCW about the situation that has arisen.


The national success rate is determined based on the number of students that re-enrol after the first year of a university study programme and go on to obtain their Bachelor's degree [1]. The reason for looking at whether students re-enrol after one year is because the first year of study is used to establish whether there is a good match between students and their study programmes. For example, students can transfer to related university study programmes or higher professional education programmes without losing their course credits or student grants and loans.

In order to make comparisons between universities possible, use is made of the so-called standard selection: pre-university students who transfer from secondary to university education with a maximum of one gap year.


The most recently available data relate to students who started in academic year 2017/'18. Data are available in the dataset 1cijferHO 2021.

The data shows that of the group that started in academic year 2017/'18, 32.1% obtained a university bachelor's degree within three years. Within 4 years, the total percentage of bachelor's graduates is 69.6%.






Success rates higher research education sector vs. institution rates
The VSNU analyses success rates of the sector as a whole, by checking how many students both start and complete a university study programme. The Performance Agreements concluded by universities include institutional success rates, expressed by the numbers of new first-year students who are accepted, who re-enrol at the same institution after the first year, and who go on to graduate. The figures shown here all relate to the sector as a whole; individual universities have different success rates.

Background on improved success rates

The rise in success rates can probably be attributed to more than one cause. The agreements concluded between universities and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in 2007 state that universities must do more to increase students' study pace, by increasing programme feasibility and by placing clearer demands on students. This policy is now taking effect.

At technical universities in particular, the transition between Bachelor's and Master's programmes used to be somewhat vague, resulting in students who had not yet completed their Bachelor's programme being allowed to commence a Master's programme regardless. As of the previous academic year, all universities have introduced a ‘clean break’ between Bachelor's and Master's programmes: students may not start a Master's programme until they have completed their Bachelor's programme.

From the 2017/'18 cohort, however, there will be a temporary soft cut: due to the corona situation, students who have not yet completed their bachelor's degree in a single subject may already start a master's programme.



[1] Selection criteria pre-university secondary education pupils: highest level of prior education = pre-university secondary education; 1st year participation in higher education; full-time enrolment.




Last updated at 14-3-2023