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Stratifying education

university degree is not needed

Photo of Katerina Bohle Carbonell
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I spent 10 months in the US during which I often discuss the differences between the US and some European educational system. I most often was meet with disgust when I explained how 'we' do it:

In the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany we sort children into different types of middle and high school based on a test result. One test determines your future! Of course there is much to say against it, but keep in mind that you can fight decisions. Teachers use the test result and students performance to recommend what type of middle school they should follow. Based on the type of middle school you followed, your life choices range from going to university to being a craftsman. So some high school degrees do not give you access to a university (at least not directly), after some type of high school you have the skills to be a tradesman and the skills to run your own business (something that comes often with being a tradesman)

The benefits:

  • homogeneous population in middle and high school, helping teachers to prepare lessons plan and teach
  • better preparation of all students for their potential jobs


The downside:

  • of course if you are from a lower socio-economic background, chances that you get into the right high school to go to university are low. But that is also the case in the US.

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • An Individual

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

What would happen if we get rid of compulsory education?

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Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Katerina!

Thank you for your post. It is interesting to look at the education system all around the world. I am aware of the German system and their strong apprenticeship model.

How does the Netherlands apprenticeship model work? Also, while you are at University in the Netherlands, how much connection do you have with industry? Do you have just internships/pratikums in the holidays or is there more of an integration between University and industry?

I know in Austria, for some courses, you can opt for evening classes for most of your modules and work during the day or follow a part-time job quite easily in a discipline related to your career aspirations.

In the UK, where I am from, it is more challenging to do this at a traditional University so experience in your desired careers needs to fit around your studies or be a sandwich year or a position in your holidays. Some people are sponsored by industry. 

Also, how many people from industry take your lectures compared to academics in the Netherlands?

Sorry I am asking so many questions but I think the Dutch experience would be quite an interesting perspective.