17 September 2018 • HOP, Steffi Weber
A gap year is more popular than ever
The gap year has made a comeback. The introduction of the Dutch student loan system caused a temporary dip, but the number of young people who decide to work or travel for a year has never been this high.
Of the first-year students who started their studies in 2017, 10.5 per cent took a gap year after the final examination. Only 8.5 per cent of the first-year students in research university education took a gap year, as opposed to 11.5 per cent of the first-year students at universities of applied sciences. This is the outcome of a study of over 16,000 first-year students carried out by ResearchNed and commissioned by Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education.
The basic grant
Since 2008, Nuffic annually gauges the number of young people who choose to take a gap year and what they do during that time. This number dropped drastically four years ago. When the Dutch student loan system was introduced, many young people decided to cut their losses. In order to qualify for the basic grant, they decided to go to university immediately after their final examination.
In 2014, the year that the Dutch student loan system was to be introduced, only 6.1 per cent took a gap year. A year later, when the system was actually introduced, that percentage dropped to 4.9 per cent. Now, the numbers are back at their former levels, and they are even higher for universities of applied sciences students. Universities have not yet reached this stage: in 2012 and 2013, just over 9.5 per cent of first-year students had ‘gap year experience’, which is an even higher percentage than last year.
University of applied sciences students may take a gap year more often, but when it comes to travel experience, university students rank first. One in twenty university students travelled during their gap year. Only half as many university of applied sciences students travelled: they often choose to work instead. The respondents say that a gap year has benefits. For example, a clear majority feels more confident about choosing a study programme. Whether these students also do better in their education afterwards has not been studied.