Fontys expects fewer students; need for diversification

Fontys is preparing for shrinkage: 'The number of 17-year-olds is decreasing'
Photo credit: Fontys/Studio040

The entire region is preparing for an increase in scale, but at Fontys Hogescholen (colleges) they expect a decline. The number of students here will decrease by thousands in the coming years, the board predicts.

Chairman of the Board Joep Houterman confirms the forecast, although he is cautious. “It’s really about the longer term. We are a healthy organisation and make such a forecast every year to see how we are doing. That doesn’t mean things can’t change”.

About half of the more than 40,000 Fontys students study in Eindhoven. It appears that as a result of the decline, hundreds of jobs will disappear at the educational institution over the next three years, while the region is facing an unprecedented growth spurt.


“That is true”, Houterman agrees. “But the fact that you are growing as a region, that there may be population growth in the country, does not mean that there will also be more 17-year-olds. And that is the group on which we as a university of applied sciences depend. The number of 17-year-olds is decreasing, it is logical that we will also see this reflected in our organisation”.

“This demographic decline will also become visible at other educational institutions”,  Houterman says. “But it is a contradiction. With the economic success of the Brainport Region, the number of technical employees will also increase, as will the demand for, for example, healthcare and educational personnel. We would like to train those employees in these shortage sectors”.

Other target groups

To limit the decline, Fontys is focusing on other target groups, Houterman says. “We traditionally focus very much on full-time bachelor students, but we are broadening our horizons in that regard. For example, we will expand the number of ‘associate degrees’. This is a two-year course between MBO (secondary vocational education) level 4 and a bachelor’s degree. We are also expanding our master portfolio. The main difference between an HBO (higher professional education) and a university master’s degree is the content: an HBO master’s degree is more practice-oriented and a university master’s degree is mainly theoretical”.

Houterman does not think that the university and college will end up in each other’s way too much. “There is structural consultation between Fontys, TU/e ​​and Summa College. At the university they also think that some students who now end up there would be better suited with us, while that could also be the case the other way around”.


Finally, the university also focuses on teaching programs for people who want to retrain or have additional training. “We want to focus more on this in the future, and we can do this in close consultation with the business community and the professional field”, Houterman says.

“We also have ambitions in attracting international talent. We now have many European students from, for example, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Spain and Italy. We must focus on retaining these people in the region even after their studies. To achieve this, we must reach good agreements with the business community, but also provide housing”, Houterman says.

Source: Studio040

Translated by: Bob

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