Research University vs. University of Applied Science

Date:2020-12-02 21:42

One of the most frequently asked questions by our readers is “Is my major competitive in terms of job-hunting?”; “What job opportunities are there for graduates from research universities and universities of applied sciences?”

What differences studying in different universities and majors will make for working in the Netherlands? 

Research University vs. University of Applied Science

There are 2 types of universities in the Netherlands:  Research University and University of Applied Science

Research University (Universiteit in Dutch) provides academic university education (shortened as WO, wetenschappelijk onderwijs, literally "scientific education") that focuses on equipping students with capability of conducting independent research at an academic and disciplinary setting.

University of Applied Science Hogeschool (HBO, short for Hoger beroepsonderwijs; literally "higher professional education") focuses on applied sciences that is more practice-oriented. Internship makes up a main part of the whole programme that aims to better prepare students to engage in working in a certain industry.

HBO is more practicality-oriented that includes internship which better prepares students for job market.

Differences in Systems for WO and HBO:




Mostly comprehensive Universities and specific-subject-focused universities like TU Delft, Eindhoven University and Twente University

7 disciplines: Economics, Health, Agriculture, Education, Social Work, Art and Engineering. 


Bachelor, Master and Phd

Bachelor, Master

Programme Period

3 years (Bachelor),

1-3 years (Master)

4 years (Bachelor)

Two different educational mechanisms make different alternatives for Chinese students. Thus, the employment rates of graduates from 2 types of universities become a main concern. Here are ranking lists of employment rate of graduates from WO and HBO respectively:


Employment Rates Ranking of Universiteit Graduates by 2017 Times Higher Education


Employment Rates Ranking of Hogeschool Graduates by Keuzegids—Higher Education Information Centre

Statistics from Nuffic demonstrateed that up to 65% of Chinese students who study in Dutch Hogeschool are of Economics major.

HoiTalent summarized employment rates of both types of universities and drew a conclusion that:

For Chinese students who found jobs in the Netherlands, 42.2% of them graduate from Hogeschool while 57.8% from Universiteit, see below:


Employment Rates of Different Majors in Dutch Universities

How what you majored in universities exert impacts on job-hunting after graduating?

As to master students, 5,308 international students in Universiteit are engineer majors;

1645 international students in Hogeschool study arts & culture.


(Major Selections for International Master Students in Dutch Universities)

It shows a lot different story for bachelor students. 12,962 registered students in Hogeschool study economics & Business; In Universiteit the number of registered students majoring in Economics & Business nearly equals to that of Social Science.


(Major Selections for International Bachelor Students in Dutch Universities)


It can be seen that Economics & Business is still among the top choice for students. From the chart above, a conclusion can be made that most graduates from Hogeschool majoring in Finance、International Business engage in Finance、Marketing. Marketing are more prone to work in Marketing Analytics, which doesn’t require high language proficiency.

Students graduating from Universiteit mostly work in Business Management, Finance, Supply Chain Management, and Marketing.

Thus, we can reach a conclusion that students from Universiteit enjoy higher and better employment opportunities than their counterparts from Hogeschool. Graduates from hot majors like Finance、Supply Chain、Marketing and Engineering have broader range of job selections.

Self-employment in the Netherlands after Graduating

Apart from finding a dream job after graduating, self-employment has been an option for more and more students. 

How is the business environment and opportunities for Chinese graduates who want to be self-employed?

Here is some relevant statistics:

According to the latest survey by CBS, approximately 16% international students start their own businesses in the Netherlands within 7 years graduates from Dutch universities. German and Chinese students make up the majority of those who start their own business.

Dutch students are less inclined to have their own start-ups.

What are educational backgrounds of these self-employments students?



Among those who start their own business, 14% are from Health Care, followed by Language & Culture and Education. Only 24% Agriculture and Natural Environment majors choose to stay in the Netherlands to start their own business.

In summary, graduates from U universities have higher and better employment opportunities compared with students from H universities. 

Business and Engineering still remain the top choices for job-seekers.

There are not quite many limits on different majors for those who want to have self-employment.

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