Part of the
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University

4TU Federation

+31(0)6 48 27 55 61


Sector Plan for Science and Technology Education

donderdag, 4 juni 2020
Today, the 4TU.Federation presented its Sector Plan for Science and Technology Education to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Joint plan to close the gap between intake capacity and labour market demand

Today, the 4TU.Federation presented its Sector Plan for Science and Technology Education to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The sector plan came about in close consultation with the general universities, universities of applied sciences, the business community and students.

The plan presents seven joint campaigns to increase intake capacity and the number of graduates of the science and technology programmes. It focuses on Computer Sciences, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering because the gap between the supply and demand in the labour market for these disciplines is the greatest. View the sector plan here

In the period between 2011 and 2018, the number of students in science and technology increased from about 65,000 to over 97,000. The number of teaching staff barely kept pace during that period.
The funds made available by the government for science and technology last year can be used to catch up in recruiting academic staff, yet this is not enough to fully guarantee the quality of good education. At the same time, despite considerable growth in student volumes, the demand for technically trained staff continues to increase, both in major international companies and in SMEs.

Sector Plan for Science and Technology Education

The Sector Plan for Science and Technology Education includes an analysis of the labour market needs, integration into the labour market, the pass rates and the number of international science and technology students. 

Growing demand: from high-tech to foodtech specialists

The analysis shows that labour market shortages are mainly among ICT employees (including Computer Sciences, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science), electrical engineers and mechanical engineers. The demand for these types of specialists relates to the strong position that the Netherlands has in high-tech industry and a changing labour market with an increasing demand for innovations in the fields of information technology, cyber security, medical technology, food supplies and for the social transitions needed for a sustainable society. The coronavirus crisis is not expected to reduce labour market demand in these disciplines in the long term.

Low drop-out rate among science and technology students

Furthermore, the analysis shows that science and technology education ties in well with the labour market and that higher education graduates in the science and technology sector are more likely to choose a job in their own sector than students from other higher education sectors, and also more often than science and technology graduates in senior secondary vocational education (MBO).

Science and technology students take a little longer to complete their degree programme compared to other sectors, but the drop-out rate from higher education without a qualification is not higher than in other sectors. However the drop-out rate among boys is much higher than among girls. This applies to all sectors in university education.

Finally, the proportion of international students in science and technology in the Netherlands is lower than the average in OECD countries. In a number of other sectors there is a surplus of international students, and this calls for a differentiated approach to the internationalisation policy, with scope for a different approach in the various education sectors.
Read the entire analysis in Sections 3 to 7 of the Sector Plan.

The actions: from campaigns to attract teaching staff and students to an improved Programme Choice Check

The analysis has resulted in seven projects that the universities will launch after the summer in project teams with representatives from the universities of technology, the general universities and universities of applied science, and from the business community. Students will participate in the various project teams on behalf of the student organisations ISO and LSVb. The projects are primarily focused on the disciplines of computer sciences, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. After that, the approach may be broadened in consultation with science and technology deans to all STEM programmes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programmes).

For example, to recruit the hundreds of new academic staff needed, a joint international campaign will be set up to alert scientists all over the world to the career opportunities in the Netherlands. This will be based on the experience gained in recruiting female scientists. A similar campaign will be launched to raise interest in the electrical engineering programme, with a special focus on female school students.

Helping school students in making their programme choice is a massive challenge. Many institutions guide students well in making informed choices within the range of programmes at their own institution. However, there are few tools that help school students to choose the best programme within, for example, the discipline of computer sciences. We must provide better answers to questions like “Does a research university of a university of applied sciences suit me best?” and “Should I study Artificial Intelligence or choose Data Science after all?”. At present there is little information about this. A joint Programme Choice Check is being developed to better guide prospective students in weighing up their choices.
Read all actions in Section 8 of the Sector Plan.

Stay informed

Progress of the seven joint campaigns can be followed on the website and on the twitter and LinkedIn pages of the 4TU.Federation. The 4TU Annual Report will contain concise reports and an analysis of the parameters monitored in the context of the plan. An interim report as at 31 December 2022 and a final report as at 31 December 2024 will be presented to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and published on the 4TU website. 

IJsbrand Haagsma, M +31(0)6 18 08 68 56