Competency-focused education? Bachelor’s, Master’s, major, minor? Competency, BSA, ECTS? When you enrol in a degree programme at a university of applied sciences, you’ll suddenly find yourself surrounded by all kinds of new terms and abbreviations. These require an explanation, which we are happy to provide by means of a glossary of terms.

Explanatory glossary of terms


The European Union aims to have comparable higher education degrees and, consequently, has ensured that the Bachelor’s and Master’s titles are now used in both the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. This way, everyone understands your level of education. You earn a Bachelor’s degree if you successfully complete a degree programme at a university of applied sciences (after three or four years) or a regular university after three years. A Master’s degree is earned if you successfully complete a Master’s programme after completing your Bachelor’s programme.


The digital learning environment at The Hague University of Applied Sciences is called Brightspace. In it you will find teaching materials, presentations and information on the degree programmes. You can also submit your homework and collaborate with other students here.  


BSA stands for Binding Study Advice. It is a term that can make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. At the end of your first year, an assessment is carried out to determine whether you have enough points to continue studying. The number of points is established in the Programme and Examination Regulations (PER ) for each degree programme. If a student has too few points, he or she will receive Binding Negative Study Advice and will not be allowed to continue in the degree programme. That sounds very serious - and it is - but it is up to each student to make every effort to obtain Positive Binding Study Advice at the end of the year.

Competency-focused education 

Every occupation requires not only knowledge, but a specific attitude and skills. A social worker, for example, must be a good listener, while an engineer must be meticulous. Thanks to competency-focused education, you not only gain a great deal of knowledge, but also the right qualities to start your career off right.


Not only does Europe have the same currency, but also the same credit system at universities of applied sciences. ECTS stands for European Credit Transfer System. One ECTS represents 28 hours of study. During a full-time Bachelor’s degree programme, for example, you earn 60 ECTS a year and 240 ECTS in total.


Your major is the basis of your degree programme, i.e. the ‘main focus’ of your studies. A minor complements your major and lets you give your programme a personal touch. That’s because the minors are optional. You can opt for an advanced minor in which you specialise in your specific discipline or a broadening minor, which is equivalent to taking a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at a completely different field of study. A minor is also useful if you are considering continuing your education and enrolling in a Master’s degree programme at a university of applied sciences or university.

Brief glossary of terms


Former student of a degree programme in higher education (with diploma)


The plan in which a degree programme describes its learning objectives and the contents of the study. Every degree programme has its own curriculum.


A study form in which you combine studying and working in your area of specialisation


The Education and Examination Regulations (EER) for a degree programme. Every degree programme has its own EER.


A test in which you demonstrate that you master the material studied. There are both written and oral exams. 

Executive Board

The ‘bosses’ of the university of applied sciences, with the chairperson as the ‘top boss’

Foundation programme

The total of all 60 credits you can earn during your first year  


A collection of degree programmes within the same discipline


A teaching format in which the lecturer explains the curriculum content to a large group of students, usually in a classroom setting


National student union (Dutch Student Union) that represents the interests of students in the Netherlands

Numerus fixus

When only a limited number of students is admitted into a degree programme


Website where you can keep track of your grades and exam registration

Student counsellor

Employee of a university of applied sciences or university who helps students with advice on both private and study-related matters


The resulting product of a scientific study that you write at the end of your studies based on a topic of your choice


A teaching form in which students work on projects individually or in groups under the supervision of the lecturer.