Just 5% More International Students Studying in Netherlands, Lowest Increase in 9 Years

Netherlands Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News May 28, 2024

Person biking in Groningen, Netherlands

The Netherlands has seen only a 5 percent increase in international student numbers in 2023/24 compared to the previous academic year, according to data from Nuffic, a Dutch organization for the internationalization of education.

More than 128,000 international students are currently attending a Dutch university or universities of applied sciences, Erudera.com reports.

Although this number has hit a new high, increasing by 5.4 percent from the academic year 2022/23 when there were 122,287 international students in the country, this time, institutions have recorded the smallest rise in nine years.

Overall, one in six students in the Netherlands are international, with almost three-quarters hailing from the European Union, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein. Germany is still the leading source country, with more than 21,000 students in the Netherlands, though there are fewer German students studying at Dutch universities for the second year in a row.

Experts attribute the decline to efforts to reduce international student numbers and universities stopping recruitment at the end of 2022. Back then, Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf sent a letter to universities and HBO colleges, urging them to stop actively recruiting international students.

14 Dutch universities, members of the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL), announced earlier this year plans to reduce international student enrollment and limit English-taught degrees to control the influx of international students.

“Universities are taking these measures to preserve the added value of internationalisation without adverse impact on the Netherlands. Indeed, internationalisation is very important to the scientific community, our economy and the future of our students. At the same time, universities recognise that internationalisation has also created several problems that have necessitated the above measures,” Ruben Puylaert, spokesperson for UNL said.

Universities agreed to no longer offer new English-language bachelor’s programs and to review which English-taught courses should be completely switched to Dutch.

Last year, Dijkgraaf said the influx of international students should be reduced; otherwise, it will lead to “overcrowded lecture halls, excessive workloads for lecturers, a lack of student accommodation, and reduced access to study programs.”

Legislation to reduce international student numbers, which has gone through a long consultation process, was finally published on May 13, 2024. It will allow universities and colleges to no longer admit international students to English language programs and limit the number of popular courses.

Moreover, higher education institutions will not be able to launch new English language programs without initially receiving permission from the Ministry of Education. The Dutch language will also be more used at universities and promoted among international students.

Data indicate that this is also the first time since the 2006/07 academic year that the number of international students enrolled in bachelor’s programs has dropped. Last summer, only over 20,000 international students started their bachelor’s degrees, showing no changes from the previous academic year.

Read Also:

>> Study: Over 80% of International Students Choose to Stay in Netherlands Due to Career Opportunities

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