Excellence in higher education: educational preferences of honours students in the Netherlands

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This paper researches excellence in higher education by looking into honours programmes (HPs) in Dutch higher education. HPs are selective and aimed at the brightest students, offering them a more challenging – often extra-curricular – study experience. Based on a survey (n=259) at Dutch universities, our study identifies three types of honours students: task-committed, above-average ability, and creative. We asked each group how their ideal HP looks like. Task-committed students are interested in disciplinary HPs that have a student-centred approach. The above-average ability students demand a highly selective and small-scale HP that admits only the brightest students. Moreover, they prefer a HP that is isolated from regular study programmes. Creative students are interested in a variety of disciplinary subjects, not offered in regular curricula, often requiring substantial amounts of extra time and effort. The differences in preferred configurations of HPs have policy implications for universities interested in introducing excellence education
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameCHEPS working paper series
ISSN (Electronic)2589-9716


  • METIS-320819
  • IR-99152


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