The Associate degree (Ad) is at a crossroads (again). That’s the conclusion of a study by SEO Amsterdam Economics and its partners ecbo, ROA and Kohnstamm Institute into how the roll-out of the Ad has progressed since it was definitively enshrined in law.

The definitive inclusion of the Ad in the law has not led to a clear increase in the number of Ad programmes or the inflow of students in recent years. An important explanation for this stagnation is that submitting applications for new Ad programmes has only been possible since August 2014. Yet it seems too simple to consider this the one and only cause. In recent years, the Ad seems to have been stuck in a vicious cycle due to unfamiliarity amongst (many of) the parties involved and (as a result or explanation thereof) an unclear position within the education system and on the labour market.

On the other hand, some institutions and specific Ad programmes manage to attract many students, a relatively large share of whom will eventually graduate. Also, employers and students who are aware of the Ad are mostly positive, whereas policy makers and educational institutions are currently giving off positive signals.

This means that the Ad is at a crossroads. The Ad seems to have added value and now has to prove its worth with the support of all stakeholders. A statutory basis has been created and implemented, now it’s time for the roll-out into practice. That’s the thought behind the title of this report: Ready for growth?