Transition year
for refugee students and professionals

Studying in a foreign language and in a new education system is a challenge for many refugee students. A bridging year prepares you for a study in higher education. We therefore also call a transition year a preparatory year or pre-bachelor. During this year you will learn Dutch, English, 21st century skills and other subjects that are important for your choice of study. With a preparatory year you can also get used to Dutch education. After this year you will follow a course in higher education.


Who can take a transition year?

Did you receive your residence permit after January 1, 2022? Do you want to follow a transition year or language transition program? Then you can ask your municipality about the possibilities.

Are you integrating under the Integration Act 2013? And do you have a DUO budget? Then the UAF may be able to support you. Read what the options are below.

What can I expect from a preparatory year?

What you can expect from a transition year:

  • You follow a full-time program at the college or university with intensive supervision.
  • You have 20 to 30 hours of lessons each week.
  • You need 10 to 20 hours a week for self-study.

You can choose from various bridging years that prepare you for higher education. You can find these throughout the Netherlands. In some places you also have an MBO transition year (schakeljaar) that is supported by the UAF.

What study skills will I learn?

A bridging year prepares you for the skills you need to study at higher education or university. You can think of the following skills:

  • independent study attitude
  • project work
  • present
  • work in groups on an assignment
  • work under the supervision of a teacher

What is the result of a transition year?

At the end of the transition year, you have knowledge of the Dutch language at NT2-II State Examination level and you meet the admission requirements of your choice of study. You also know what studying in the Netherlands entails. You have been introduced to lectures, presentations and group assignments. This means that you are well prepared for higher professional education or university studies.

In the Netherlands you can follow a preparatory year through various study programmes. View the overview map here. 

Please note: double click on the 'pins' in the overview map to open the relevant transition year pages. 

Where can you follow transition years in the Netherlands?

In the Netherlands you can take a transition year through various courses. Click on the button below for an overview of the different transition years. 

What are the fees?  

Do you fall under the Civic Integration Act 2013? The transition year will then be paid for by the UAF, the educational institution and from your DUO budget. The UAF also reimburses your travel expenses. Do you have insufficient DUO budget? Then you can borrow money from the UAF

Did you receive your residence permit after January 1, 2022? Do you want to follow a transition year or language transition program? Then you can ask your municipality about the possibilities.  

What are the registration conditions for a transition year? 

The registration conditions for a transition year may differ per course. This depends on which one hbo- or university transition year you are going to follow. You can find more information about this on the course website. Important conditions are:

  • Credential evaluation at a minimum of havo 5 or mbo 4. Please note! Always check the site of the transition year.
  • Language level Dutch at least B1 and English at least A2.
  • Available DUO budget.
  • Permission from the municipality if you receive benefits.

Sign up & advice

Are you interested in a bridging year? Then register for a preparatory year at a university of applied sciences or university in your area. Are you a client of the UAF? Consult with your learning path counselor about your application. You can find more information about the admission requirements on the websites of the educational institutions. Via the transition years overview you will find the websites of the transition years. Most transition years start in September.

The story of Raneem (Syria)

Two years ago, Raneem (23) was still living in Damascus. She studied pharmacy at the oldest university in Syria. When she fled, she ended up in another ancient university city: Leiden. With the support of the UAF, she is now making a new start there as a student of biopharmaceutical sciences.