Alleviating the teacher shortage: combining a Master's programme with a teacher-training programme.

Everyone, from the government to dads chatting in school yards, is worried about the persistent shortage of teachers. And the solution seems obvious – just train more people to be teachers. To that end, Utrecht University (UU) and HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht (HU) are joining forces. Starting in the next academic year, students of the Master's programme in Educational Sciences can combine that programme with the teacher-training programme at HU: the MPabo. Luce Claessens, education specialist at UU and one of the coordinators of the programme combination: “This way, after you graduate, you won't just have a Master's degree, but you'll also be qualified to teach in primary education right away.”

UU and HU have been working together in teaching primary school teachers for a long time now, and the Academic Teacher-Training Programme for Primary Education (Academische Lerarenopleiding Primair Onderwijs, ALPO) is a Utrecht initiative that has inspired many others throughout the country. Claessens: “That programme is mostly geared towards pre-university (VWO) pupils who are quite sure they want to pursue a career in primary education after getting their diploma.” Most prospective students, however, are not sure what career they want to pursue right after graduating from secondary education. “There are plenty of students who start their Bachelor's programme with us and, upon finishing it, think they might like to be a teacher. With the MPabo track, students who take the Master's programme in Educational Sciences with us will now be able to gain their teaching qualification for primary education as well. In the future, we will be looking at the possibility of introducing the same combination for other Master's programmes.”

leraar en leerling

Quality Assurance

Maaike Koopman, associate professor at HU and also involved in the MPabo project, is thrilled with the successful combination. “This is simply a necessary step in combating the teacher shortage. Furthermore, this combination of a UU Master's programme and the HU teacher-training programme allows us to better tailor our efforts to students with an academic background.” Koopman observes that primary schools are in need of people with an academic background: “They can contribute to a school's quality assurance, for example. Teachers with an academic background are also better able to study the education provided at a school and evaluate it. I think that, with our MPabo track, we have created quite an appealing new variant in the offer of our university of applied sciences.”

Not just the theoretical side of Educational Sciences, but also the practical work placement experience at schools.


Student Hieke Lampe is someone who has always known she wanted to teach. “But after graduating from pre-university education, I wanted to keep my options open. At the time, I chose to take the Bachelor's programme in Interdisciplinary Social Science.” Now that she has finished that, she has decided to take part in the MPabo programme. “It's perfect for me. This track offers not just the theoretical side of Educational Sciences, but also the practical work placement experience at schools that a teacher-training programme offers.” She is still figuring out what exactly she wants to do in the field of education. “Maybe something in educational design. Or maybe I'll join a board of education. That is what makes the MPabo track so unique – it doesn't require you to fully commit to actively teaching. Though I do think that’s what I'll be doing for a while once I finish the MPabo. I'd like to gain some experience as a teacher.”

Interested in the MPabo track? Visit masterstudie Educational Sciences or mail to: