When it comes to education, the Netherlands is an example for the rest of the world. According to Pearson’s prestigious ranking, its higher education is the eighth best in the world and third in Europe. Join us on a journey through the country’s modern and balanced talent incubators.

If anything, Dutch education is designed for the student as an individual. From the age of 14, youngsters have plenty of opportunities to design their own individual learning trail. In brief, Dutch secondary school can be divided into different categories: for example there is vocational training (vmbo), technical education (havo) and general education (vwo). According to the level you choose, you are prepared for a different form of higher education. Within the system, pupils have opportunities galore to explore their passions and immerse themselves during their electives. These can vary from science or languages to arts or philosophy.

After graduating from secondary school, most students choose the level of higher education that fits their high-school career. Vwo-students usually end up at a university (wo), havo-students opt for higher college education (hbo) and vmbo-students choose a mediate college programme (mbo). That last one is, once again, divided into various degrees of difficulty. It also provides you with an entrance ticket to commence hbo-studies afterwards. This way, no door ever really closes on you within the Dutch education system. Those who want to, can always work themselves up to a higher level if they are motivated enough.

The Netherlands’ top sectors:

Although Dutch talent can be found in all fields, they play a global pioneering role in nine sectors in particular. In these industries, they are world champions.
Agriculture and food

While combining productivity, quality and safety, the Netherlands is leading the rest of the world towards a sustainable food industry.


Today’s chemistry industry in the Netherlands focuses on relevant subjects like climate, circularity, food, mobility and health. It has, therefore, a significant global impact.

Creative industry

As a country of innovators, the Dutch combine their limitless fantasy and urge to create with a fascination for new methods and upcoming platforms.


With its long history of building windmills, the Netherlands is well on its way to becoming climate neutral. Their expertise, they happily share with the rest of the world.

High-tech systems and materials

High-tech is more than gadgets and luxury items. Dutch innovators create state-of-the-art solutions for a range of social challenges.

Life sciences and health

In the Netherlands, top-notch healthcare is available to everyone. Yet, even more than curing illnesses, they aim to prevent them and increase quality of life.


As a well-connected country in the heart of Europe, the Netherlands proves its talent for logistics on a daily basis; on land, at sea and in the air.


The cultivation of both flowers and vegetables is blooming in the Netherlands. Its long history in growing crops makes their produce popular at home as well as abroad.

Water and marine

As a water-drenched country, the Dutch are experts in protecting themselves against it and using it to their own advantage. The power of water is never underestimated in the low countries.

In this month’s special guide, we present our top pick of the region’s finest educational establishments: for everyone from the youngest learners to the perpetual student.

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