DUO: Third of first-years at Dutch universities are international students

DUO: Third of first-years at Dutch universities are international students

Recent data published by the official Dutch education agency DUO has revealed that, for the 2022 / 2023 academic year, around a third of first-year bachelor and master students at universities in the Netherlands were from abroad.

Influx of internationals in the Netherlands appears to be slowing 

Over the past several years, higher education in the Netherlands has seen the number of international students rise significantly. Now, approximately a third of first years are international students.

According to DUO, in the autumn of 2022 over 85.000 international students were enrolled to start a course at a Dutch university or college, marking a 7,3 percent increase compared to a year earlier. Looking back over the past 20 years, the increase is even more significant: in the 2005 / 2006 academic year, only 12.500 first-year students in the Netherlands were international.

While the number of international students continues to rise, the year-on-year increase does appear to be tapering off: Trouw notes that in previous years, DUO recorded growth rates of between 12 and 15 percent. The figures reported by DUO are also lower than those reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) last year.

Dutch government still looking to control student numbers

The rising number of international students in the Netherlands has led to issues at various levels, as universities and cities - particularly those in the Randstad region - struggle to keep up with demand. Not only do universities simply not have the space for their international students, but those coming from abroad find it increasingly difficult to secure student accommodation, especially considering the country’s severe housing shortage

Over the last few months, members of the Dutch parliament have frequently called on the government and universities to take action, namely by capping the number of international students and ceasing to actively recruit students at university and career fairs outside of the Netherlands.

Dutch Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf has also expressed concern about the strain that is being placed on Dutch higher education as a result of the high number of international students. “We have to control that influx in order to achieve a better balance in the education system,” a spokesperson for Dijgraaf told the AD. “We must maximise the benefits of internationalisation, such as attracting international talent. And reduce the negatives, such as problems with too much work pressure on teachers.”

Thumb: Dutchmen Photography via

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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