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Secondary education in the Netherlands. Studying in high school in the Netherlands

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Eerde International Boarding School
Accredited by Council of International Schools (CIS)
Eerde International Boarding School
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from 15000.00 € / year
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from 15000.00 € / year
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Education information

Today, the Netherlands attract a wide range of foreign students from all over the world with high-quality educational services and interesting culture. Many international students choose studying in the Netherlands as it's a great opportunity to combine effective courses with exciting rest. SMAPSE offers TOP-5 prestigious primary and secondary schools where international students can get high-quality and balanced primary and secondary education.

Please, don't hesitate to contact SMAPSE experts as they are always ready to answer all your questions. 

Secondary education in the Netherlands for international students

Students go to high school at the age of 12-13: at this age students determine the future profession. Why so soon? The fact is that secondary education in the Netherlands is divided into three stages with different levels of studying - they depict next steps in professional activity. Therefore, after elementary school, the child, together with parents, chooses one of the areas:

  • VMBO - Vacation courses 
  • HAVO - general secondary education
  • VWO - preparation for university education.

VMBO includes programs in 5 core areas:

  • TL and KL provide the theoretical basis - the basis for moving to the next level, studying the HAVO program.
  • GL, BL, P -  preparing workers with qualifications (technology, engineering, agriculture, social services, economics)

Studying at these levels lasts up to 16 years - after which the graduate can start working in the chosen specialty or study further. To switch to HAVO programs, you must pass the test.

Education at HAVO lasts 5 years, and a graduation certificate is the “key” to higher professional education. After the first, common to all types of schools, 3-year program, the student must choose a profile:

  • art and humanities
  • economics, science, history
  • natural sciences (preparation for medical education)
  • technical science.

VWO - preparation for admission to university for 6 years. You can choose two types of studying: with compulsory study of Greek and Latin languages (in addition to the required two) or one of them of your choice.

Studying conditions in Holland for foreign students

It would seem that the prestige of studying in the Netherlands means that it is difficult for foreign students to enter secondary schools in the Netherlands. Fortunately, this is not so - every child with any level of knowledge can count on enrollment: before entering, the future student is interviewed by teachers to choose the right program for him.

The only mandatory requirement is good command of English or Dutch, in which classes are held. Some schools may require certificates of international TOEFL and IELTS tests or take language courses in the Netherlands before admission. For foreign students for whom the Dutch language is not native, extra time is given when passing the exams and you are allowed to use the dictionary.

Which schools in the Netherlands are better to choose for foreign students?

The Ministry of Education finances some Dutch schools - so studying there is free. For foreign students, the chance to get to a free school is very low: only especially gifted children are accepted to state-funded places, and the number of such places is limited.

The second type of schools are private schools in the Netherlands, where education is paid. Any foreign applicant can enter there. Basically, such institutions do not involve living on their territory, so care must be taken about housing for the child. For example, you can live in a Dutch family - such programs have been successfully implemented for more than one year.

In addition, international schools and colleges are especially appropriate for foreign students. The curriculum is aimed at preparing for admission to universities in the Netherlands and Europe.

Below there is a list of ranking private schools in the Netherlands:

Name, location

Cost of studying



Erde International School (ISE) 140 km from Amsterdam

€ 36,000

Full board in the residence. Coeducation, family accommodation. Extracurricular leisure courses-events - music, culture, sports.

Mastering status holder (among the most prestigious schools in Europe). Programs of the University of Cambridge and International Baccalaureate. At the core - the disclosure of the potential of students.

Amsterdam International Community School (AICS), Amsterdam

from € 6635

Possibility of passing exams in English.

Communicating in different languages, foreigners from 40 countries are studying.

Lessons in English according to IBOF (International Baccalaureate Organization) standards. The main principle: "To become an independent adult, you need to enjoy childhood."

Rotterdam International Secondary School (RISS), Rotterdam

from € 6500

International School for Foreign Students

Themed events for communication in English are held - Language Day, Language Village. The study of technical sciences on the basis of own laboratories.

Education in English according to IBOF (International Baccalaureate Organization) standards with the gradual inclusion of lessons in Dutch.

Apeldoorn Academy of Sports (Full Force Sports Academy), 80 km from Amsterdam

From € 9995

Full board - accommodation in a residence. An opportunity to make a sports career without prejudice to academic education. Preparation of football players, tennis players, riders, etc.

Including accept for studies with visas for a short period - up to 3 months.

Lessons in Dutch. Cambridge Programs - IGCSI, AICE. The school was organized in partnership with 5 sports federations.

The British School of Amsterdam

From € 14730

Much attention is paid to art, sports. Hobbies are welcomed and supported. In the last two years of study - grades 12.13 - students study only specialized subjects (3-5).

Exam Preparation GCSE, IGCSE. Programs by international standards.

The basic principle of all educational programs in the Netherlands is the freedom of thinking. If the child cannot decide on the choice of his professional field, qualified teachers will help him open up.

Courses in many subjects are taught in blocks - with a deep immersion in the topic, detailed study. Highly qualified professionals who have made a successful career in economics, business and the humanities come from prestigious Dutch schools. Studying in the Netherlands is a contribution to the future!

Learning programs-summary information

Name Meaning Equivalent Min. age Duration,
Next stage Cost
GCSE General certificate of secondary education secondary education (non-accomplished) 14 1–2 A-Levels 15,000 USD+
A-Levels Advanced level secondary education (accomplished) 16 2 University 15,000 USD+
BTEC Business and Technology Education Board secondary special education 14 2–3 University/ work 15,000 USD+
Oxbridge Preparation Preparing for Oxford and Cambridge secondary education (accomplished) 17 1 University 15,000 USD+
International Baccalaureate International baccalaureate secondary education (accomplished) 16 2 University 18,000 USD+
Foundation/ Pathway Year Preparatory year admission to the 1st year of university 17 1 University 14,000 USD+
NCUK The Northern consortium 2 year university 17,5 1 2 year University of NCUK 13,000 USD+
Special Preparation (Medics/Math/Business) Specialized training - 14 optional optional 4,000 USD+
Academic English Academic English Language school 8 + 6–12 months School or University 8,000 USD+

Advantages and disadvantages of English schools

Advantages Disadvantages
The opportunity to enter the best universities in England, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Europe, the world Expensive
High quality of education and academic standards Strong workload
Perfect English after graduation The need to change the social environment; it takes time to adapt
Useful contacts The difficulty of choosing the most suitable school for the child, requires a qualified specialist

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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