Record number of international students come to the Netherlands


There have never been so many international students in the Netherlands, and they have never come from so many different countries. The increase is especially great at the Dutch universities.

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This academic year, there are over 112.000 international students in the Netherlands, with 164 nationalities, says Dutch organisation for internationalisation Nuffic. Over 30.000 of them are taking a few classes or doing internships, but 81.000 came here for a full educational programme.

Over half of these students (48.000) is studying at a university. That means 18 per cent of all university students in the Netherlands are international students – whereas ten years ago, that figure was only eight per cent. Master’s programmes saw the biggest increase in international students.

At the universities of applied sciences (“hbo”), the number has stagnated for the past few years. There are approximately 33.000 international hbo students. Ten years ago, 6.6. per cent of all hbo students came from abroad; now, it’s 7.5 per cent.

More non-Europeans
More and more international students are non-European, according to Nuffic; they mostly come from countries such as India, Indonesia and South Korea. Germans are still the biggest group by far (22.000 students), followed by China (4.300 students). Surprisingly, the Netherlands attracts more Italians than Belgians.

Maastricht University has been the country’s most international university for years: more than half of their students aren’t Dutch. That percentage will only grow in the next few years – of their freshmen, only 35.5 per cent is Dutch.

Groningen University and Erasmus University Rotterdam each have a little over five thousand international students. Fontys University of Applied Sciences has 4.800 – a little more than TU Delft and the University of Amsterdam.

The number of international students increases at Utrecht University too, especially in the master’s programmes, as we wrote before. Compared to other universities, however, the UU is falling behind.

The most international programmes at the universities are the university colleges (38.7 per cent) and the arts programmes at the universities of applied sciences (31.8 per cent).

The increase in internationalization is beneficial to the Dutch economy, Nuffic reported last November. About a quarter of the international students will stay in the Netherlands for the rest of their lives, boosting our economy with a brain gain worth 1.5 billion euros.

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