Advice regarding previous education
In order to study in the Netherlands, your previous education must be adequate. Exactly what previous education you need depends on the level of the study programme you want to follow. Some study programmes also have additional requirements, such as language, subjects, etc. The admission requirements for the study programme you want to take are listed on the website of the educational institute offering the programme. You can find more information about the education system in the Netherlands here.
What is your foreign diploma or previous education worth in the Netherlands?
An international credential evaluation clarifies what your diploma is worth in the Netherlands. Are you undertaking civic integration and participating in the module Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market (ONA)? Then you can request an international credential evaluation (IDW) free of charge. The international credential evaluation can help you find a job or gain access to further education. An international credential evaluation is provided in the form of advice. You cannot derive any rights from it. For refugees from Ukraine, we advise you to check credential evaluation.
Are you still a pupil at an ISK? Then you can request an international credential evaluation via the school free of charge. The school can apply for an international credential evaluation via the SBB.
Do you already know which study programme you want to pursue, but do not meet all the admission requirements of the programme as yet?
If your previous education is not acceptable for the study programme you want to pursue, UAF may be able to assist you to prepare for the study programme.
If you do not meet the conditions of UAF for application as yet, you can read on this page how you can nevertheless achieve your study goal. There are, for example, options via VAVO, transition years (schakeljaar) and MBO.
Too little previous education?
Were you unable to complete secondary school before coming to the Netherlands? Or do you not have enough previous education to start the study programme of your choice? Depending on your situation, there are several options for continuing your education. Check below to see which situation applies to you.
I am under 18 years of age. I want to take an MBO study programme, but my previous education is inadequate.
From the ISK to MBO 2, 3 and 4
Did you arrive in the Netherlands at age 16 or 17? Then you have most likely not been able to finish secondary school. As a young asylum seeker, you are often placed in an ISK (International Transition Class). In this transition class, you learn the Dutch language and how to integrate into Dutch society. You will then sometimes be placed in an Entry-level course (MBO1). For an MBO study programme at level 2, 3 or 4, you usually need a diploma.
Have you been placed in an Entry-level course but you would prefer to take an MBO study programme at level 2, 3 or 4?
You can have your credential evaluation assessed. This can help you find a study programme at your educational level. Is your credential evaluation comparable to a Dutch VMBO diploma or at least 3 years of HAVO or VWO? You can then enter MBO 2, 3 or 4. You must be able to read, speak and write Dutch at a minimum language level of B1.In addition, you must also meet the other admission requirements of the study programme. Are you still taking part in the ISK (International Transition Class)? Then you can request an international credential evaluation via the school free of charge. The school can apply for an international credential evaluation via the SBB.
Are you unable to produce proof of your previous education?
Have you lost your diploma or list of grades and cannot retrieve it safely? Your school can then request an Educational Level Indicator (ION) for you.
Based on your information, the Educational Level Indicator will make an assessment of your credential evaluation. The MBO college then decides the level of the study programme that you can start.
Are you not admitted to MBO 2, 3 or 4 because your educational indication is too low? There are still other options to reach your goal. These options are also available to people who are age 18 or older. Read more below.
I want to take an MBO 3 or 4 study programme, but I do not have enough previous education.
There are several routes you can take for entry to higher education. You can advance step-by-step through regular education: For example, starting with an Entry-level course and continuing to study until MBO 4. The problem with this route is that it is often a time-consuming process. Therefore, you could consider accelerating this process with a transition year (schakeljaar) or VAVO. But which is the best option? It is important to consider the level of the study programme and whether this is feasible. If this is the case, we can look at how you can gain access to this level of study programme. More information about VAVO and MBO transition years (schakeljaren) can be found below.
I want to obtain a VMBO-TL diploma – Adult General Secondary Education (VAVO)
Adult General Secondary Education (VAVO) is intended for pupils aged 18 and over and, in some cases, also for 16 or 17 year-olds who are no longer in secondary education but do not have a starting qualification as yet. It allows you to obtain your VMBO-TL diploma in one to two years and then start an MBO 3 or 4 study programme.
VAVO is not supported by UAF, but you can sometimes apply for a student grant from DUO.
However, you will most likely need to have a job at the same time as attending the VAVO study programme as the student grant is not enough to live on. You can find more information about VAVO here.
I want to take an MBO transition year (schakeljaar)
Sometimes it is possible to take a transition programme, called a ‘schakeljaar‘ in Dutch, that prepares you for MBO level 3 or 4. UAF provides support for the MBO transition years of ROC Midden Nederland in Utrecht and the Alfa College in Groningen. As a student, you must first be accepted for the MBO transition year before you can become a client of UAF.
Combining civic integration and vocational training
If you have been granted a fixed-term asylum residence permit (Asiel Bepaalde Tijd), you are obliged to take part in civic integration. It is often possible to combine your civic integration course with vocational training at several ROC colleges in the Netherlands.
If you combine your civic integration programme with vocational training, you will not only improve your Dutch, you will also learn a trade. You take a language course and an MBO study programme at Entry-level (MBO 1). You can follow an MBO study programme at Entry-level even if you have not yet obtained a diploma in the Netherlands or in your country of origin. If you complete the programme successfully, you will have passed your civic integration examination. You will also obtain an MBO diploma that allows you to start a job or advance to an MBO study programme at a higher level.
Admission requirements for educational institutions
In general, you have to fulfil the following conditions to participate in an Entry-level MBO programme combined with an integration programme:
- You are over the age of 16;
- You have not yet obtained a diploma at VMBO level or higher (in the Netherlands or in your country of origin);
- Dutch is not your native language.
For information about specific admission requirements, please contact the ROC college that provides the study programme.
Content of the programme
In an integration programme, a lot of attention is paid to the Dutch language: at the end, you should be able to pass the civic integration exam at A2 level at least. You take subjects such as mathematics, citizenship and employee skills, as well as subjects that are part of your chosen study programme. You will also often do an internship during the course of the programme. This allows you to put everything you have learned into practice immediately.
Where to study?
It is not possible to combine civic integration and an Entry-level programme at every MBO school. You can ask at the MBO school in your area about the options.
Leeg laten – niet verwijderen
I want to take a HBO or WO / University study programme, but I have insufficient previous education
There are various options if you want to take a HBO or WO / University study programme. Even if your previous education is inadequate. For instance, there are transition years (schakeljaren) for HBO and WO, or you can attend VAVO and obtain your HAVO or VWO diploma. You can read more about these options below.
Did you complete, or almost complete, secondary school before coming to the Netherlands? Then it is wise to see if you can take a HBO or WO transition year called a ‘schakeljaar’ in Dutch. This is often a one-year programme that is supported by UAF. The conditions for registering for a transition year may vary from one programme to another. This depends on which HBO or WO transition year you are going to take.
It is important that you have already registered for the transition year when you call UAF for the first time. UAF receives the names of the students from the educational institutes. Some transition year programmes have an extra focus on the Dutch language. It is also possible to use the DUO budget for civic integration to partially fund a transition year.
More about a transition year and the educational institutes in the Netherlands that offer this option. Click here.
I want to obtain a HAVO or VWO diploma – Adult General Secondary Education (VAVO)
Are you ineligible for a transition year? Then you might be able to obtain your HAVO or VWO diploma via VAVO.
Adult General Secondary Education (VAVO) is intended for pupils aged 18 and over and, in some cases, also for 16 or 17 year-olds who are no longer in secondary education but do not have a starting qualification as yet. In theory, you can obtain a HAVO diploma in two years via VAVO. And with a HAVO diploma you are, in principle, eligible for an HBO study programme*. After obtaining your HAVO diploma, you can spend a further two year at VAVO to obtain your VWO diploma. A VWO diploma is required in order to take a WO study programme at a university. *Please note: an HBO or WO study programme may also have additional admission requirements.
VAVO is not supported by UAF, but you can sometimes apply for a student grant from DUO.
However, you will most likely need to have a job at the same time as attending the VAVO study programme as the student grant is not enough to live on.
To be admitted to VAVO, different entry requirements are set for each level. Check the website of the ROCcollege or VAVO Lyceum in your area for more information about the admission requirements and the deadlines for application.
You can find more information about VAVO here.
Registration & advice
Do you have a question for us? Then please fill in the contact form. We will contact you within four working days.
Before we register you with UAF, we will first contact you to discuss your request for assistance and how exactly we can support you.
Would you prefer to talk to someone on the telephone? Then please call us: 030 – 252 08 35.
Do you want to sign up to receive support from UAF? Then you should first read the registration conditions.
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