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What on Earth is DUO? Posted by on Jun 4, 2021 in Culture, News, Politics, Travel & Geography

If you moved to the Netherlands, there’s a good chance you had to deal with a Dutch institution called DUO. Short for Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (“Service Execution Education”), this agency is responsible to execute the education policy of the Dutch government. But why do you have to deal with them, and what do they want from you? In the What on Earth? series, we look at institutions and services that you might encounter in the Netherlands that seem pretty unique. Let’s find out what DUO does!

Disclaimer: None of the information given is binding nor guaranteed to be accurate, but it is based on the research and personal experiences of the author. For accurate and up-to-date information, please visit the website of the institution/service discussed.

Click here for more posts in the What on Earth? series

What is DUO?

DUO is an organisation set up in 2010 as a fusion from the Informatie Beheer Groep (IB-Groep) (“Information Management Group) and Centrale Financiën Instellingen (CFI) (Central Finances Institutions). They are an executive organ of the Dutch government, dealing with onderwijswetten (education laws) and –regelingen (regulations). It also helps the gemeenten (municipalities) with executing the Wet inburgering (Integration Act).

So you will encounter DUO when you want to studeren (to study), inburgeren (integrate, naturalize) or anything like that, you will hear from DUO!

So, what exactly do they do?

Going to College – collegegeld, studiefinanciering, studentenreisproduct

DUO Dutch Institution English

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

So you decided to go to school in the Netherlands! One of the first things after getting accepted by your school is inschrijven (enroll) and paying lesgeld or collegegeld (tuition fees). DUO is in charge of making sure you’re in the system and ensuring you paid for your study.

With all the costs that come with studying, it can get pretty expensive! That’s why there is studiefinanciering (student finance) in the Netherlands. You can apply for it on the website of DUO and manage it online. Some of the studiefinanciering comes as a gift upon completion of your study, while the bulk of what you get is a loan (normally at pretty nice conditions, like a very low interest rate and a long time to pay it off).

In addition to studiefinanciering, there is the studentenreisproduct (student travel product), which allows you to travel for free or at a discount with public transport throughout the Netherlands. This is very advantageous for students that study in a different city than their hometown, but they want to visit their home from time to time. Many students actually go home every (other) weekend! The studentenreisproduct is a component of studiefinanciering that becomes a gift (gift) if you graduate within 10 years.

Even if you’re no longer eligible for studiefinanciering, because you’re too old, you might be able to get a loan. As long as you’re below 56 years of age, you might be eligible for the lifelong learning credit.

But even after you finish studying, you are not done with DUO just yet. DUO will let you know when you have to begin paying off your studiefinanciering, you can get your diploma from the diplomaregister (diploma register).

Becoming Dutch – inburgeren

Photo by Reiseuhu on Unsplash

So, you finished your studies, but you grew to love the Netherlands. And who wouldn’t?

And now, you want to stay and get the Dutch nationality! That’s where you’ll meet DUO again. DUO manages the inburgeringsexamen (naturalization exam) and the payment for it.

Again, there are ways to get loans for the inburgering.

Data that you can learn from: Onderwijsdata

Furthermore, DUO also publishes onderwijsdata (education data). So if you want to learn more about the Dutch education system with statistics, that’s a good place to start!

As you can see, if it’s somehow related to exams or education, DUO is a likely institution you’ll meet! Have you had experience with DUO or another Dutch institution/organisation/service? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


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