Netherland now hosts more than 112,000 international students, nearly three-quarters of which (81,392) are engaged in full degree studies. Another 11,500 are on Erasmus+ exchange, and nearly 20,000 more are comparable “credit mobile” exchange students from outside the European Union/European Economic Area.
That level of enrolment represents an almost-exact doubling of degree-seeking students at Dutch universities over the past decade. The Netherlands reached that mark due in part to its highest year-over-year growth in foreign student numbers in 2016/17 (+6,163 students or 8.2% growth from the year before).
Total enrolment of international degree-seeking students and their proportion of total higher education enrolment in the Netherlands, 2006-2016. Source: Nuffic
This latest data from the Netherlands comes via a recent report from Nuffic: Update: Incoming student mobility in Dutch higher education 2016-17. Nuffic attributes the country’s substantial gains over the past ten years to expanded national and institutional recruiting and the greater availability of English-taught programmes at Dutch universities, as well as the quality of life and job prospects for international graduates after their studies.
And with that growth through 2016/17, international students now account for more than one in ten (11.4%) of all higher education enrolments in the Netherlands. Nuffic points out that this is nearly double the OECD average of 6%, and estimates that the Netherlands’ share of all internationally mobile degree students worldwide increased from 1.5% to 2% over the past decade.
Following this broad institutional trend, there is some indication that foreign enrolment in the Netherlands is also becoming increasingly concentrated by level of study. In 2016/17, foreign students accounted for roughly 28% of all new entrants to Dutch master’s programmes. In contrast, only slightly more than one in ten (11.2%) of all new undergraduate students came from outside of the Netherlands.
At the programme level, therefore, the international-domestic mix has become more differentiated between the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. However, in terms of absolute numbers, overall demand is still weighted to undergraduate studies with 60% of new foreign students pursuing a bachelor degree in 2016/17.
In terms of field of study, Nuffic observes some variation in programme preferences between students from other European states as opposed to those from out the EU/EEA. In both cases, however, “economy and business” programmes are clearly the area of greatest demand.
International degree students in higher education in the Netherlands by field of study, 2016/17. Source: Nuffic