The Netherlands now attracts nearly 2% of all internationally mobile students, with its market share rising by 15% since 2006/07, according to Nuffic’s latest incoming student mobility report.
“International students enhance the quality of education in the Netherlands”
The report shows that international degree students not only reached their highest total to date in 2016/17 – 81,392 all told – but also showed the highest annual growth rate so far, up 6,163 on the previous year.
An additional 19,360 students came to the Netherlands from outside the EU and EEA for at least 90 days, while “at least” 11,500 came for an exchange or work placement through the Erasmus+ program.
The figure does not account for an “unknown number” of non-Erasmus, credit-seeking mobile students from within the EU or EEA, as these students are not registered at national level, the report notes.
As well as the swelling in numbers, the international degree student cohort is also becoming more diverse, Nuffic’s latest student mobility analysis report shows.
Neighbouring Germany is the biggest source of international students among the 164 countries represented, sending some 22,000 students to the Netherlands (around 27%). China follows with 4,300 students, then Italy with 3,300.
However, the report notes that since 2010/11, when German students accounted for around 40% of the total, “The relative importance of German and Chinese students has been decreasing, and other countries have become increasingly important.”
The last decade has seen the proportion of students coming from outside Europe climb. India, Indonesia and South Korea have seen particularly notable increases.
These three countries are among the 11 that have dedicated Netherlands Education Support Offices run by Nuffic, which also includes Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Turkey.
Not coincidentally, these were also the 11 countries that saw the biggest growth in international students over the last decade – up 150% collectively.
More than one in ten tertiary level students in the Netherlands (11.4%) is now from outside the country, the report shows.
Though bachelor’s programs attract a much greater number of international students (21,000) than master’s programs (13,620), the proportion of students that are international is much higher – 22.5%, compared with 9.3%.
“We welcome the large influx of students in technical master’s studies, because there is a shortage of skilled technical personnel”
And master’s programs are “internationalising faster than bachelor’s programmes”, the report notes.
One in four new master’s enrolments was an international student in 2016/17, rising to one in three for engineering and economy and business programs and one in two for agriculture programs.
In comparison, just over one in 10 new bachelor’s students was international.
“We welcome the large influx of students in technical master’s studies, because there is a shortage of skilled technical personnel in the Netherlands,” commented Beatrice Boots, director of the National Platform Science & Technology.
The University of Maastricht attracted the largest number of international students of any Dutch higher education institution, according to the report, with international students making up more than 55% of the total student population.
Having an international classroom enables students to “expand their personal perspectives and to become the global citizens of tomorrow”, a spokesperson for the university said.
“By approaching problems from a variety of perspectives, students are acquainted with different ways of seeing things that enhance the quality of the discussion,” they added. “In this way, the ‘international classroom’ serves to prepare students for the rapidly changing and globalising labour market.”
International students in the Netherlands contribute an estimated €1.57bn to the Dutch treasury annually, according to an earlier calculation by Nuffic quoted in the report, based on a 25% lifelong stay rate among international degree graduates.
“Of course, it is great that international students contribute to the state treasury, but there is another important reason,” commented Nuffic director Freddy Weima.
“International students contribute to an international classroom at Dutch higher education institutions, which benefits all students. With the knowledge, experience and networks that they bring from their own country, they enhance the quality of education in the Netherlands.”