Number of international students at Dutch higher education institutions has never been higher

19 Apr 2017 | Genoveva Geppaart

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In the past 10 years, the number of full-time international students seeking degrees at Dutch research universities and universities of applied sciences has doubled, according to Nuffic (The Dutch Organisation for Internationalising Education). The increase has been 18% since the previous academic year. 


Increase of international students

In this academic year (2016-2017), a total of 112,000 international students attend Dutch higher education. This is more than ever previously recorded. A total of 81,000 are taking a full degree programme. The others come for shorter stays, mainly exchange programmes. The students come from 164 different countries. The highest number of students come from Germany (22,000 students), followed by China (4,300 students) and Italy (3,300 students).

The number of international students is largest in art-related studies (31.8%) and at university colleges (38.7%). Proportionally, an increasing number of international students come from outside the EU, especially from India, Indonesia and South Korea.


Stay rate

Many international students stay in the Netherlands after graduation and thus contribute to the country’s knowledge and fiscal economy. Nuffic estimates that about 25% of the international students stay in the Netherlands for the rest of their lives. This group contributes approximately €1.57 million annually to the Dutch treasury.



The increase in international students causes problems for the student housing market. So far, all students have found accommodation in time. The gap between supply and demand has never been greater. To avoid this gap in the future, educational institutions, pension funds and project developers together need to ensure an increase of 125,000 student rooms by 2030.

Kences, the organisation for student housing, together with Class 2020 (an European think tank involved in higher education and student housing) sent a letter to the informateur (the person charged with forming a new government) asking the new government to develop an action plan for the growing group of international students


Beneficial for the Netherlands

International students are beneficial for the Netherlands, not only because they contribute to the Dutch treasury. In addition, they improve the quality of Dutch education through their contributions based on their knowledge, experience and networks.

The most important reasons to choose Dutch tertiary education are the good quality of studies in English and the relatively low costs.


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