The VO-HO Netwerken (Secondary-Higher Education Networks) were set up in 2004 as part of the Deltaplan Bèta Techniek (Dutch national STEM strategy). The main goals of the networks are the professional development of secondary education teachers and principals, the continual innovation of courses and curricula and the improvement of the connection between secondary education (VO) and higher education (HO). The networks offer a wide pallet of activities for students, teachers, technical teacher assistants and heads of schools with a focus on STEM education. Currently there are are ten regional networks that consist of universities, higher education institutions, (pre-univeristy) secondary schools and business and societal institutions. The specific objectives are set by each regional network independently, in alignment with the regional context and objectives.
The specific objectives of the networks are set and monitored on a regional level, and thus vary from network to network. However, an indepedent study of the Radbout University Nijmegen on the effectivess of the networks (Raab et al, 2017) showed that in the period 2008-2010, 59.5 per cent of the overall enrollment in STEM studies (which grew over 3 times faster than total enrollment in higher education) can be attributed directly to the collaborations. The study also concluded that the VO-HO Netwerken are a highly cost-efficient policy instrument.
The Networks cover of 361 (pre-university) secondary schools (60% of the total), 22 universities of applies sciences and 12 research universities. Together they reache more than 35.000 students and 3.800 teachers annually.
The networks are coordinated by the Dutch national STEM platform (PBT) and co-financed by the Dutch government, industry and the participating institutions.