Number of International Students in the Netherlands Increases Again As COVID-19 Restrictions Ease


As the new academic year starts, the number of international students at universities in the Netherlands has increased by 10 percent after a drop marked at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) has pointed out.

The President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), Pieter Duisenberg told AD that it is not a surprise that numbers are increasing again because last year was quiet due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, reports.

‘There is a worldwide trend of students searching for good quality higher education for relatively little cost,” Duisenberg said.

VSNU has earlier noted that Dutch universities expect to see more students signing up for a bachelor’s degree for the upcoming year, adding that a 5 percent rise in the number of students enrolling in a Dutch university has been projected.

According to the Immigration Service IND, the number of study visa applications from non-EU students reached 15,110 by the end of July this year, compared to 2020 when IND received 12,310 study visa applications, which number declined by 40 percent.

It further added that most applications came from the following countries:

  • China
  • India
  • the US
  • Turkey
  • Indonesia

Moreover, the majority of international students this year have decided to pursue economics and business studies, while other majors include social sciences, engineering, arts and culture.

The Dutch organization for internationalization in education (Nuffic) pointed out that the number has somewhat increased because this year, UK students also had to apply for residence permits as a result of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

In late April, the Netherlands announced that university libraries and study places would open for students following the country’s relaxation of measures for higher education, thus allowing more students to return to campuses.

According to previous estimates of the auditing service Price water Coopers (PwC), universities in the Netherlands have been in financial distress, losing a total of €1.1 billion. These findings were confirmed by the VSNU, which said that universities are indeed facing financial hardships.

A report by Nuffic revealed that there were 94,236 international students enrolled in full-time degree programs in the Netherlands by 2019.

12,3 percent of all student population in the Netherlands were international students during the 2019/2020 academic year, with more than 72 percent coming from an EEA country and over 27 percent from a non-EEA country.

That year, about 66 percent of international students attended a research university, whereas 34 percent pursued studies at universities of applied sciences.

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