[sc_post_date • HOP, Bas Belleman
Wealthier VMBO pupils more often attend universities of applied sciences
It’s a recent example of unequal educational opportunity: pupils in preparatory secondary vocational education (VMBO) from wealthier families are more likely to continue their education at universities of applied sciences than those from poorer families.
This was shown in a Statistics Netherlands study that followed the educational careers of thousands of lower secondary school education pupils in terms of their parents’ incomes. The conclusion was that children from wealthier families are also more fortunate in this regard.
The VMBO pupils followed in this study were enrolled in the two highest levels of VMBO (the combined and theoretical learning pathways). These pupils advance most often to higher education by first completing either senior secondary vocational education or senior general secondary education.
Forty percent of the children from higher-income families attend a university of applied sciences as opposed to 32 percent of the children from lower-income families. The study wasn’t limited exclusively to poor or rich families since, according to the Statistics Netherlands’ definition, two in five families in the Netherlands have ‘a lower income’ while one in five has ‘a higher income’.
The discussion about unequal educational opportunities erupted last spring when the Educational Inspectorate announced how great the differences were between children from less-educated and highly-educated parents. The Statistics Netherlands study should only add more fuel to the flames.
The first reaction came from the Dutch National Student Association. ‘The stack of studies demonstrating inequality in higher education is starting to reach epic proportions,’ said its chairman Jan Sinnige. ‘Instead of opening up opportunities, the educational pathway seems to be narrowing down to fewer and fewer choices until you have no choice at all. The Minister of Education’s recent remedies may have been well intended but what’s needed is a lot more money and policy.’