Numbers of foreign students in the Netherlands increases

Numbers of foreign students in the Netherlands increases

The numbers of students coming from abroad to study in the Netherlands in last year (for a full course) increased by five per cent, to 11.756 students.

This is the third year enrolments have increased. Most foreign students come from Germany, followed by China, Greece and Britain, with Italy overtaking Belgium to round out the top five.

The Dutch government is keen on attracting foreign talent, having launched a plan in 2013 to help international students to stay in the Netherlands after completing their studies.

International students in the Netherlands

The three most popular study areas for international students were Economics, Social Sciences and Engineering, although enrolments in Economics dropped slightly, while those for Engineering increased by 10 per cent. Natural Sciences and Health also saw significant increases in enrolments, while by contrast enrolments in Education dropped by a third.

Total enrolments at Dutch universities increase

The total number of first-year students enrolling in a bachelor course for 2013-14 was 45.377, a seven per cent increase from 2012. This is mainly due to an 11 per cent increase in the number of students coming from pre-university secondary schools (VWO).

One likely reason for this increase is that changes were planned to the student loan system, meaning that students enrolling later would no longer receive the basic grant. These changes have been delayed.

The total number of students attending a research university in the Netherlands this academic year is 248.247, an increase of 3,5 per cent compared to 2012-13.

Most popular courses in the Netherlands

The most popular studies overall remain Social Sciences and Economics, which have the greatest proportion of total students.

The most popular courses in terms of this year's first-year intake were Psychology, Law, Medicine, Economics and Business.

While almost all academic fields saw the number of applicants rise from previous years, the influx of new students was greatest for courses in Agriculture, Natural Sciences and Engineering.

Interestingly, Language and Cultural Studies also saw an increase, after several years of declining student numbers.

The only field where numbers dropped was Law, probably due to the introduction of fixed student numbers.

Numbers of graduates dropped

There were fewer bachelor and master degrees awarded in 2013, decreases of eight per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

This was the result of exceptionally high graduation numbers in 2012, due to the threat by the Dutch government to fine students who take too long to complete their studies. Now that the fine has been abolished, graduation numbers have returned to expected levels.

Alexandra Gowling


Alexandra Gowling

Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in Asia before coming to the Netherlands a year ago. She enjoys writing, reading...

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