How is the Coronavirus affecting international students in the Netherlands?

How is the Coronavirus affecting international students in the Netherlands?

A recent report by Nuffic has looked into the impact of the coronavirus on incoming and prospective students in the Netherlands. The report found that the majority of students still want to study in the Netherlands and expect to start this coming September.

What is Nuffic?

Nuffic is a Dutch organisation promoting international education in the Netherlands. Nuffic supports educational institutions teaching foreign students and internationalisation activities across the Netherlands, from primary education to vocational and higher education.

Nuffic has Netherlands Education Support Offices (Neso) in ten countries outside of the EU: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam. These countries have been designated as especially important to higher education in the Netherlands; 57 percent of international students from outside the EU come from these countries.

Nuffic has compiled a report on how the coronavirus has impacted international students’ plans to study in the Netherlands. The report looks at student mobility and how coronavirus has affected the study plans of prospective students.

International students in the Netherlands

This academic year, 94.236 international students are studying a full-time degree in a higher education institution in the Netherlands. International students are students with an educational background outside of the Netherlands and are not Dutch nationals. By this ruling, 12,3 percent of all students in the Netherlands are international. Of these students, 72 percent are from an EEA country, 27 percent are from a non-EEA country. Students from Neso countries make up just 16 percent of all international students.

The percentage of international students in the Netherlands has continued to rise each year since 2006. In the 06 / 07 academic year, 5,5 percent of students in the Netherlands were international, this has continued to rise to the 12,3 percent recorded this year.

The report

According to Nuffic, the main purpose of their survey was to find out whether the current coronavirus crisis had affected the study plans of prospective students in Neso countries. The survey, which contained thirteen questions, was distributed by Neso offices. In total, 941 students in ten Neso countries participated in the survey.

From the 941 students, 80 percent said that they were inclined towards studying in the Netherlands, which is unsurprising since the surveys were distributed through Neso offices. 67 percent of participants hoped that they would still start their studies in September this year.

The survey also asked participants if they were at all deterred from moving abroad to study due to COVID-19. 40 percent said they were not deterred by the virus and would still come to the Netherlands; 36 percent were unsure, and 24 percent said they would have to give up on studying in the Netherlands.

The survey went on to ask about the uncertainties the participants were facing in moving to the Netherlands to study. According to the respondents, it seems people were mainly worried about travel restrictions, scholarship availability, financial problems and visa procedures.

The survey showed that there is a need for clearer and more accessible information. Around a fifth of the respondents wrote additional questions in the open response field, indicating they needed clearer information on postponement of admission conditions, visa deadlines, whether tuition fees will be lowered and if student housing will be impacted by the crisis, among other things.

Continued interest in the Netherlands

In most Neso countries, there hasn’t been a significant decline in people who are interested in studying in the Netherlands. The survey highlighted that continued interest in studying in the Netherlands is conditional on several concerns, which are chiefly financial worries but also travel restrictions and whether universities will continue to offer on-campus learning, rather than going completely online; which is seen as less attractive.

Despite the majority of Neso countries showing a continuous interest in studying in the Netherlands, a few countries have experienced a decline. China and South Korea have reported a much less level of interest at the Neso offices, compared to before the coronavirus crisis. In Vietnam, it has been reported that there is a 50 to 70 percent drop in students applying to study overseas.

When asked about online learning, 38 percent of prospective students said they would prefer being on campus while starting their education in September. 44 percent of respondents said they would prefer to change their plans, either by deferring a year or starting in the following term than starting classes online.

Conclusions from the study

Overall, the study shows there is a continued interest in studying in the Netherlands from prospective international students, however, it also highlights the need for Dutch authorities to address their concerns. In particular, prospective international students need to be given clearer and more accessible information on any changes to the new academic year and any special requirements, conditions or laws that might be put in place due to the current pandemic.

For more information, you can visit Nuffic’s webpage or check out the report for yourself!

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

Read more



Leave a comment

MuhammadDanish2 22:10 | 14 June 2020

Appreciate the concern towards perspective students. What about existing ones? Why not also to do survey about those already studying here? Why not to ask what are they going through? Why NON-Eu students are completely ignored by the government. Why financial conditions for us are still the same even after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has clearly stuck hard the whole world, and now sub-continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal) has become the new epicentre. I would like to let you know that we are going through tough period. Our parents are not able to support us in these tough times. Businesses are hit hard back home for us. We have no idea how are we going to pay the fee for next year, and how are we going to show the chunks of money to show that we have enough for the next year? Which is also a condition for our visa continuation. We NON-Eu students have now decided to get together and protest against DUO for completely ignoring us. We are not consumers, we are humans. We are joining our hands under the group: Please join us so we can make some noise.

MaiaP2 19:23 | 18 June 2020

Yep, I agree, Muhammad. Thanks for the link. I was applying for a job right before lockdown and, unfortunately, the process didn't finish. I still have to manage to pay rent and I'm struck with a lot of financial burdens without any answers. I hope they do address this soon, but I'm not so hopeful. And what about tuition? We have to pay for that, but I haven't been able to access anything to help me with my thesis so I may be delayed for another semester and I'm still paying full tuition! It's personally not too hard to adjust to online classes and I don't have much aid in anything else. The schools seem to be opening up, albeit slowly, but I still lost about 3 months worth of time and have not received any financial aid for it.