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Dual Qualification in the Netherlands
MBO/BOL4
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(1) National framework of the scheme; 
(2) Major features of the scheme;
(3) Educational concepts underlying the scheme;
(4) Organisational implications of the scheme;
(5) Evidence of the scheme's effect. 
Info unit 1 of 5 
Netherlands: MBO/BOL4

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(1) National framework of the scheme

The national case study in the Netherlands focused on MBO schools which offer three and four year school based vocational courses at senior secondary level. These courses qualify young people of 16-20 primarily for employment at middle-management level in four sectors: technology, agriculture, health care & social services and commerce. 
    From 1996, Dutch vocational education at senior secondary level has faced rather big changes. The Adult and Vocational Act (WEB) came into force in January 1996. This new law aims at harmonising all the various types of vocational and adult education into a single statutory framework. At the heart of the Adult and Vocational Education Act is a national qualification structure for vocational education, into which a new educational model has been incorporated. The levels of qualification are in line with the European SEDOC system. 
    The programmes within the qualification structure consist of two different educational pathways:
(a) a vocational training pathway (BOL), in which the percentage of vocational practical training is between 20 and 60% (comparable to the present MBO);
(b) an apprenticeship training pathway (BBL), in which the percentage of vocational practical training exceeds 60% (comparable to the apprenticeship system). 
    The vocational training pathways at level 4 (middle management) give access to higher education and are comparable to the 'old' MBO courses. According to the new qualification structure, higher education (HBO) should also be accessible for those coming from a dual (specialised apprenticeship) route. Pilots started in 1998 concerning HBO courses for people with an apprenticeship diploma (at specialist level). These will be evening courses or part time courses because most of these apprenticeship graduates are working adults.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Trudy Moerkamp
Info unit 2 of 5 
Netherlands: MBO/BOL4

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(2) Major features of the scheme

MBO/BOL courses cover occupational fields within four sectors: the technical; agriculture; health care and social services; and administration/commercial services/trade. MBO/BOL offers relatively broad courses, even more so if compared to apprenticeship courses. 
    MBO/BOL consists of courses at different levels which vary in duration from one to four years. The Dutch study focuses on the courses at level 4 of the qualification structure. Most of these courses have a duration of four years. The courses cover occupational fields within the technical sector, agriculture, health care & social services and commerce. They include periods of training on the job (in the 3th and/or 4th year), mostly involving two or three different placements. Many courses are modular, integrating the various general and vocational subjects and learning targets.
    In the last two years many vocational colleges made efforts to innovate the curriculum and teaching styles. In particular integration of the curriculum through problem based learning became very popular. Up to now there is no overall picture of how many schools innovated their curriculum and to what extent. Some sectors decided to tackle the problem at national level. For instance, in the building sector and the health care sector a new, completely problem based curriculum has been developed. In this curriculum general subjects and vocational subjects are integrated. 

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Trudy Moerkamp
Info unit 3 of 5 
Netherlands: MBO/BOL4

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(3) Educational concepts underlying the scheme

MBO has in fact a threefold qualifying function: acting as a labour market qualification, a social qualification and a transfer qualification. Some courses, therefore, offer extra activities in addition to their regular programme for students wishing to proceed in HBO. These extra activities consist mainly of additional subject matter in general and theoretical subjects. They are being formalised because of the development of transfer attainment targets. However, all MBO graduates will keep the right to proceed to HBO, a right which applies to students who have not attended a transfer programme. However, students who do attend transfer programmes are expected to have better chances in HBO. In practice, students completing the regular programme still achieve a double qualification. Students who attend the regular programme are considered to be acceptably qualified for transfer to higher vocational education as well as to employment. Both vocational and general subjects are considered to be relevant.
    Since 1998 the study time for MBO graduates who continue their study in domain related areas in HBO has been reduced to three years. The assumption is that these students could benefit in their subsequent studies from their practical experience and domain knowledge acquired in MBO.
    Students themselves consider MBO a good preparation for HBO courses. Graduates from MBO seem to be more satisfied on this matter than graduates from general education, although they feel that MBO courses should stress subject matter knowledge to a greater extent (putting greater emphasis upon languages, maths, study skills), while putting less emphasis on the practical orientation. MBO schools consider both vocational and general subjects to be relevant with respect to transfer to HBO, although vocational subjects are regarded as less important.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Trudy Moerkamp
Info unit 4 of 5 
Netherlands: MBO/BOL4

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(4) Organisational implications of the scheme

The double qualification function in MBO is divided into two parts:
(a) the regular programme, consisting of vocational and social cultural qualifications; this is the ‘standard’ programme, which gives students the formal right to enter HBO;
(b) the enrichment programme, which consists of qualifications which are directly and specifically aimed at transfer, offering students a better chance of success in HBO.
(c) the enrichment programme, which consists of qualifications which are directly and specifcally aimed at transfer, offering students a better chance of success in HBO.
    MBO students have the opportunity to obtain a specific HBO-transfer certificate. 
The HBO certificate consists in the first place of common subjects in all courses. The qualification will include the attainment targets of the Dutch and English languages and ‘general skills’. ‘General skills’ include: working systematically, reflecting on work methods and co-operating with others. According to the Working Group that designed these attainment targets, ‘general skills’ should be related to subjects like mathematics or science.
In the second place the MBO-HBO progression certificate will contain MBO-HBO domain-related qualifications. Similar to the domains in (senior level) general education, four domains have been distinguished: a socio-cultural domain, economics, and nature & health, nature & technology. 

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Trudy Moerkamp
Info unit 5 of 5 
Netherlands: MBO/BOL4

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(5) Evidence of the scheme's effect

After graduation from MBO, 69% of students leave the full time education system, 29% continue their studies in HBO (and 2% stay in MBO to improve their exams results or to graduate in another domain). Labour market prospects are good for MBO graduates: in 1997 only 4.6% of the MBO diploma holders were unemployed. The general unemployment figure in 1997 in the Netherlands was 5.6%. 
    Over the years, participation in higher education after graduating in MBO has increased. This applies to all groups of students within MBO (not only the HAVO graduates, but the MAVO and VBO graduates as well). Recently the figures show a downward tendency due to the good economic situation in the Netherlands and a shortage of manpower, which has led more MBO graduates to enter the labour market directly.
    MBO students who continue their studies in HBO tend to go on with a course in the same sector (about 84% of all MBO students do so, with 16% changing fields). In general, the success rate of MBO graduates transferring to HBO is more or less the same as those transferring from HAVO (senior general secondary education). However, differences exist between sectors: MBO students from long technical courses have a higher success rate than MBO students from economic/administrative services or social services. Moreover, MBO students from the technical sector show better results in the HBO technical courses compared with HAVO students. A recent study (1998) shows that graduates from MBO need less time to finish their HBO study than graduates from HAVO, respectively 48.9 and 51.4 months. On the other hand, MBO graduates are more likely to drop out from HBO than HAVO graduates.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Trudy Moerkamp

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