Zoe Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Amsterdam. She is from Edinburgh, but has al...
2015 Keuzegids: Dutch university disciplines with best job prospects22 November 2014, by Zoe Neilson
Keuzegids - an independent guide that assesses and compares education programmes in the Netherlands - has released its 2015 guide to Dutch universities, warning that a considerable proportion of students in HBO and WO higher education courses face poor to moderate chances of finding employment after graduation.
According to the guide, success in the labour market varies considerably depending on field of study, with some subjects offering better career opportunities than others.
More graduates than jobs
The overarching issue is that the numbers of graduates in many popular disciplines - economics and law for example - far outweigh the number of related jobs. This trend is expected to last into the next few years at least.
In a statement released at the same time as their 2015 University Guide, Keuzegids highlighted the imbalance between numbers of graduates and numbers of jobs, painting a very different picture in comparison to the last twenty years or so. Up until recently, students training in disciplines like economics and law could be relatively confident of finding employment.
In contrast, graduates at WO level today may have to settle for employment that is suited to HBO or MBO level, and unrelated to their field of study.
A WO (wetenschappelijk onderwijs) course is a research-oriented bachelor's degree, which is considered a higher qualification than HBO programmes (hoger beroepsonderwijs) which prepare students for particular professions, and MBO vocational training (middelbaar beroepsonderwijs).
Dentistry, engineering and theology: good job prospects
Subjects recognised by Keuzegids for their positive professional prospects were dentistry, electric and mechanical engineering, maths, chemistry and - perhaps surprisingly - theology.
Specific training courses were also identified as leading to better employment opportunities, for instance, training to be a medical laboratory technician, or WO courses in informatics and information and HBO degrees in agricultural studies.
Law, business and economics: poor job prospects
In what may come as a surprise to some, many of the subject areas that emerge in the guide as having particularly poor employment opportunities are those traditionally thought of as "safe bets", such as business, economics and law.
These disciplines were identified as having the highest number of surplus graduates in relation to job vacancies.
Additionally, information science, management studies, physiotherapy, communication and tourism studies were identified as offering particularly poor work prospects in today’s labour market.
Graduates with degrees in humanities, social science, natural science, accountancy and art have slightly better employment prospects, but their chances are classed only as "moderate".
The Keuzegids series is produced by the Higher Education Information Centre (Centrum Hoger Onderwijs Informatie, CHOI). The guide is produced through a multifaceted ranking system, with universities being compared within a given academic category, with attention paid to the quality of training as well as the consequent employment opportunities.
Based on these results, a rank of universities - divided into traditional, technical or alternative full-time education institutions - is devised.
For 2015, Keuzegids classed Nijmegen University as the best traditional university, with Groningen University in second place.
Eindhoven University and Twente University in Delft were rated equal, and together occupy the joint first place in the ranking of technical institutions.
Of those institutions that do not fall into the traditional or technical categories, The Open University was recognised as the best, narrowly beating Wageningen.
QS Ranking: different results
Keuzegids serves more as a prospectus for future students, providing extensive comparative information, than strictly as a ranking system.
Interestingly, however, its results varied from the QS World University Rankings for 2014/2015, in which the University of Amsterdam, Leiden University and Utrecht University were rated the top three Dutch universities.
The Keuzegids guide (in Dutch) can be purchased here.