Netherlands attracts more international students

08 October, 2015

The number of international students on full degrees at universities and colleges in the Netherlands increased nine per cent to more than 62,000 in the 2014/15 academic year, according to data released by EP Nuffic, the government agency promoting internationalisation in the country.

Radboud University, oe of the institutions in the Netherlands actively recruiting international students. Credit - Radboud University

The total number of international students, including short study and exchange students, rose to over 90,000, EP Nuffic said.

Neighbouring Germany was the predominant source country in 2014/15, providing 24,300 students, over a quarter of the total, followed by China (6,642), Belgium (3,007), Italy (2,881) and Spain (2,862). Nine of the top 10 source markets were EU countries.

Commenting on the growth, Freddy Weima, Director of EP Nuffic, said, “It is good to see that the Netherlands remains an attractive study destination. The students choose the Netherlands because of the high level of universities and colleges, the wide range of English language programmes and its open society.”

There has also been a significant increase in students from the UK. Since higher tuition fees for domestic students were introduced in 2012, Dutch institutions have targeted students in the UK based on the cheaper tuition costs and wide availability of English-medium courses.

According to EP Nuffic, the total number of international students in the Netherlands has increased by 70 per cent between 2006 and 2014, with a stable growth rate between four and seven per cent.

With 7,200 international students – almost half of the student body – Maastricht University was the largest host university of full-degree students, followed by the Fontys University college group and Groningen University. Among specialist institutions, the Rietveld Art School in Amsterdam had an international student ratio of 62 per cent.

Economics was the most popular subject field for international students in the Netherlands, followed by behaviour and society and engineering. Over 70 per cent of overseas students were studying on a bachelor’s degree course at either a university of applied science or a research university.

The rate of outbound mobility of Dutch students in higher education was also revealed in the Nuffic report, and totalled more than 35,000 in 2012/13. Weima highlighted that the rate lagged behind the European average. “In this field, we should encourage Dutch students and pupils to grab their opportunities. A study or internship abroad is often a life-changing experience. It is an investment in yourself and you will be more attractive to employers after graduation,” he said.

In late 2013, the Dutch government released a Make it in the Netherlands strategy to attract more international students and increase retention rates, and has introduced more generous post-study work rights for non-EU graduates in recent years.

A special tertiary focus article in StudyTravel Magazine this year highlighted institutions in the Netherlands and their international student recruitment techniques, including the use of agents.

Matthew Knott
News Editor


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