Educational institutions Dual Career practices in Netherlands

14 November 2018
Educational institutions Dual Career practices in Netherlands

At regional level Regional Elite sports Organizations maintain contacts with the educational institutions in their specific region. They mediate, if necessary, between elite athletes and educational institutions. Additionally, there is a lot happening within the educational institutions at different educational levels:

Secondary School / Elite sports talent schools

Useful links,

Below you can find information about Talent schools in Netherlands according to the cited article (IRSS.pdf,Topsport Talent Schools in the Netherlands: A retrospective analysis of the effect on performance in sport and education Fleur ECA van Rens ,Victoria University, Australia ,Agnes Elling , Mulier Institute, Netherlands Niels Reijgersberg , Mulier Institute, Netherlands , published Article in International Review for the Sociology of Sport · January 2015).

“ According to Wylleman and Reints (2010) the hours of practice in sport will intensify during adolescence. Therefore, the demands of elite sports make it difficult to balance both school and sport (Brettschneider, 1999). Besides the pressure from coaches to perform well in sport, talented athletes in the Netherlands will also have to deal with the national educational laws and pressure from the parents to perform well in school. Similar to the development of Elite Schools of Sport in many other countries (Radtke and Coalter, 2007), Topsport Talent Schools (TTS) were founded in the Netherlands. In 1991 six schools that wanted to help talented athletes to balance school and sport set up the LOOT foundation. Currently 29 TTS are members of the LOOT foundation. The goal of the TTS is to help talented athletes to achieve the highest possible level in both their sport and their education. The most important exception for talented athletes with ‘LOOT status’1 who attend a TTS is that they do not have to meet the national standard of at least 1040 hours of education per year. Eight hundred hours are deemed to be suf- ficient (Stichting LOOT and Exonto, 2010). At TTS it is, for instance, possible for talented athletes to get exemptions for creative courses and physical education. The result of these exemptions is more time for sport and rest. It is considered common sense that the extra time spent on sport during adolescence will increase sport performance levels at a later age. Recent research by Güllich and Emrich (2012) has indicated that adult international and national level athletes practiced their sport for a similar amount of hours during adolescence, although international level athletes did spend more time practicing other sports than their main sport. ……..Talent development in the Netherlands is mostly carried out by sport clubs and federations. Competitive school sports such as those known in, for instance, the UK and USA do not exist in the Netherlands. As such, schools are not necessarily aware of the talented athletes who attend the school. In order to indicate which athletes are talented the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF) allocates statuses to young talented athletes. These statuses are: ‘Promising athlete’, ‘National Talent’, ‘International Talent’, ‘High Potential’, ‘A-status’ or ‘B-status’. All talented athletes who have been allocated such a status will also obtain a LOOT-status, meaning that they are allowed to make use of the facilities offered at TTS. Soccer players who compete in the highest possible national league of their age group, and soccer players who are a part of a regional youth training center, also receive a LOOT-status. At the time of data collection (2011) there were 29 TTS in the Netherlands. Apart from the exemptions and facilities, TTS are exactly the same as mainstream Dutch secondary schools. The majority of the scholars at TTS are mainstream students; an average of only 5% of the scholars at TTS consists of talented athletes. Furthermore, research has shown that a majority of about 60% of the talented athletes do not attend a TTS (Reijgersberg et al., 2010; Stichting LOOT and Exonto, 2010). The most important reasons for not attending a TTS are the distance from home and the possibility to combine school and sport at a mainstream secondary school. Blom and Duijvestijn (2008) also showed that talented athletes in some sports are overrepre- sented at TTS, such as soccer players and gymnasts. “


On an elite sports talent school education can be followed with an adjusted programme. 30 elite sports talent schools enable the combination of studying while doing elite sports in secondary education. These schools take into account the sport ambitions of the students by offering different educational facilities, namely:

-  A flexible educational program, providing opportunities for training and competitions.

-  (partly) dispensation for specific courses

-  Postponement or reduction in homework

-  Facilities to compensate delays, caused by absence related to sport training or competitions

-  Postponement or modification of tests and school examinations.

-  Coaching from a special LOOT-coach

-  Spread exams over two school years.

These facilities are available especially for elite athletes with a A, B or HP-status for international talents, national talents and promises. This has been captured by the ministry of education, culture and science in national policy. The elite sports talent school are united in a foundation called Landelijk Overleg Onderwijs en Topsport (LOOT). This foundation determines for example the applications of candidate elite sports talent schools.

Vocational education

 In the vocational education it is legally established that schools can participate in the combination of elite sports and education. The most important arrangement is that schools may deviate from the legally established amount of educational hours, if the school can prove the quality of the certificate is guaranteed. There are 37 vocational education schools in the Netherlands that offer elite sports friendly education. For the target group of elite athletes no standard arrangements are set, because each sport had its own specific training intensity and each study has its own program. All these 37 institutions have a elite sports coordinator that set arrangements with the elite athlete(s) about the combination of elite sports and study.


Example of best practice in Netherlands

Dual Career

Tilburg University is proud of its students with Dual Careers. The university supports these students in the best way possible in order to facilitate the successful combination of their two careers.

Do you have a Dual Career? 

You can apply for talent status here.

The dual career regulations are part of the student charter


Facilities for Dual Career students

Tilburg University provides facilities to students who want to combine their dual careers.  Among others the university offers additional student supervision and in some cases financial assistance when dual career activities cause delays in study progress.

You can find a complete overview of the facilities for dual career student athletes on the website.

Rowing and hockey as core sports

The university has chosen two core sports: rowing and field hockey. These typical student sports will receive extra university support. The kind of support Tilburg University offers can be found on rowing and field hockey sub pages of the website.

Wall of Fame

Tilburg University is very proud of its excelling students and provides facilities for student athletes to enable them to combine their academic and athletic careers. Tilburg University honors those who excel in combining these two careers on the Wall of Fame at the Sport Center.