40% of International STEM-Students Stay in Netherlands After Graduation

Netherlands Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Jul 03, 2024

woman riding a bicycle in Amsterdam, Netherlands

More international students are choosing to stay or work in the Netherlands after graduation, a new study by Maastricht Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) has found.

ROA researched the proportion of international students who remain in the Netherlands after obtaining their degrees and what they do next, Erudera.com reports.

Findings show that around 40 percent of international students with STEM degrees live in the Netherlands one year after graduation, and many are also hired.

“For the labour market, this means that over 1 in 6 graduates with a master’s degree in STEM are foreign, and mainly from outside the European Union. They therefore make up a significant part of the new labour supply for these fields. For social sciences, about 19 percent still live in the Netherlands a year after graduation,” the report points out.

Data show that the number of graduates staying in the Netherlands has increased in recent years, from under 40 percent in 2020 to 43 percent one year later, specifically in 2021.

These students often live in Amsterdam after completing their studies, while fewer stay in cities like Maastricht, Groningen, and Wageningen.

Moreover, ROA warns that there will be a shortfall in engineering and the IT sector in 2028 if all international students leave the country immediately after graduation. It further estimates that there will still be a shortage even if all international students choose to stay.

Previous Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf submitted a bill to the House of Representatives aiming to improve imbalances in internationalization. If the Senate passes the bill, it will automatically allow the recruitment of international students by degree in sectors facing a shortage.

“The fact that a group of foreign students stays in the Netherlands after graduation, especially in the sectors with more tightness, increases the supply on the labour market. Bottlenecks in the labour market could be reduced if more foreign students stayed in the Netherlands than is currently the case,” ROA report adds.

There were nearly 123,000 international students in Dutch higher education in the 2022/23 academic year, making up 15 percent of the total student population.

Within the same year, a total of 41,203 new international students enrolled at state-funded higher education institutions to pursue a full bachelor’s or master’s program.

Of this figure, 69.6 percent or 28,688 students hailed from the EEA, and 30.4 percent or 12,515 from outside the EEA. At the same time, 72.9 percent or 30,030 new international students were enrolled at research universities.

Nuffic, the Dutch organization for the internationalization of education, reported that in the 2023/24 academic year, only 5 percent more international students were studying in the country than a year earlier. This was the lowest increase in 9 years.

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