Educational expansion in the Netherlands: better chances for all?

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Abstract

Higher education in the Netherlands has expanded rapidly in the last two decades, giving rise to concerns about possible negative effects on educational quality and the labour market value of a higher education degree. In this paper, we use data from national graduate surveys and adult literacy surveys to explore this. While no evidence was found for a negative effect of the HE expansion on graduate skill levels or unemployment risk, real graduate earnings have decreased over the past two decades relative to those of post-secondary non-tertiary graduates. This does not seem to have been driven by a shift of HE graduates into non-graduate occupations, but rather by a general decline in relative earnings in jobs at all levels. Finally, the more adverse effects of the expansion were particularly apparent for graduates with lower grades, women and graduates with a non-western migration background. These findings indicate that, despite relatively low unemployment, the HE labour market is increasingly becoming a buyers’ market. In this market, graduates with attributes that buyers want – males, native Dutch graduates, high-performers – emerge as relative winners of the educational expansion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-62
JournalOxford Review of Education
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • educational expansion
  • higher education
  • trends
  • skills
  • labour market outcomes

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