Nearly 6% of all Dutch VET students study abroad as part of their programme. This was revealed in figures on student mobility in senior secondary vocational education and training, published by EP-Nuffic and the Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (SBB) in September 2016. The percentage of VET students going abroad is much higher than previously assumed.

In 2013, 5.7% of VET graduates had completed part of their study programmes abroad, close to achieving the EU target for student mobility in vocational education. The aim is that, by 2020, at least 6% of all VET graduates will have spent at least two weeks abroad on an exchange programme or internship. The sector with (significantly) the highest number of students crossing the border as part of their study programme is food, green and hospitality (3 737 in 2013).  

‘It’s fantastic that VET students are going abroad. We certainly need to keep encouraging this, in the other sectors too,’ says Freddy Weima, Director of EP-Nuffic. ‘But there’s a whole world waiting for the other 94% as well. It doesn’t always need to be an internship or exchange abroad. Virtual cooperation with a school elsewhere in the world, or a work placement with an international training company, can also help students to embark on their professional careers well-prepared.’

Increasing placement companies abroad

The figures were produced by the recently established EP-Nuffic and SBB partnership. Gerrit Veneboer, Policy Director at SBB, would like to ensure that even more VET students go abroad in the next few years. ‘We will be increasing the number of recognised training companies abroad that are able to offer work placements. The special thing about work placements abroad is that they enable VET students to learn their trade in practice, while at the same time getting to know the culture and language of the country in question.’

International elective boost

Veneboer sees international electives in study programmes as providing a major boost for internationalisation: ‘With electives such as Working abroad, Bridging cultural diversity and German, students can combine their summer jobs with learning a new language. More than a hundred programmes will be offering these international electives.”

Almost all those students who go abroad for a while are over 18. More than two-thirds are between 19 and 21. Female students go abroad almost twice as often as their male counterparts. The most sought-after destinations are all in Europe: Spain, Belgium, Germany, the UK and Austria.

More information: VET statistics