The Netherlands has always remained one of the top destinations for international students, thanks to its research-focused universities, English-taught programs, affordable study costs and connectivity to all major cities in Europe.
The Dutch government’s vision for higher education and efforts to manage international mobility amid the pandemic have kept the flow of international students steady. The country remained attractive among international students and has seen a rise in the number of foreign students as compared to last year. This reflects that several students are opting to study in Netherlands.
- According to the latest Netherlands government data, in 2021-22, the country witnessed an increase of 12% year-on-year in the intake of international students to 115,068
- About 14% of higher education students in the country were international in 2021-22, up from 13% in 2020-21
- Overall, international students from 168 nationalities are currently enrolled in universities in the Netherlands
Welcoming International Students
As per latest data from the government of The Netherlands, in 2021-22, there are 115,068 international students in Netherlands, an increase of 12% from last year. Around 14% of all higher education students in the country were international, as opposed to 13% in 2020-21.
Undergraduate programs at research universities were the most popular among international students. Like previous years, Germany is the most important country of origin followed by Italy, Romania, China and Belgium. Overall, international students from 168 nationalities are currently in The Netherlands.
The number of students from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) increased by 8% compared to 2020-21, but the number of EEA students increased faster (14% more than the previous year). Non-EEA students (including UK students) accounted for about 28% of the international student population in 2021-22, slightly less than in the previous year.
Incoming mobility was largely unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 163 countries of origin with international degree students in the Netherlands in 2019-20 (the academic year that started before the pandemic), only 27 countries had fewer international students in 2021-22.
At universities offering courses in areas like applied sciences, language and culture had the highest relative share of international students (36%). Most foreign students opted for economics at 15,500.
Interdisciplinary programs at research universities had the highest relative share of international students at 46%. Behavioural and social sciences had the most international students enrolled at 17,600.
The province of South Holland had the most international students in 2021-22 at around 28,500, followed by North Holland (21,400). Amsterdam was the city with the largest number of international degree students, with 21,400, accounting for 17% of all students in the city. With 56% international students, Maastricht had the maximum share of students from other countries.
The Dutch government’s vision for higher education in the country while working with higher education institutions for policy guidance to manage the flow of international students have been instrumental in the increasing numbers.
Master’s programs saw the largest relative shares of international students in 2021-22; some 25.9% for research universities and 23.3% for universities of applied science.
Indian Students in Netherlands
India had 3,363 students in Dutch universities in 2021-22, a slight increase from the previous year. It also featured among the top 15 countries of origin of international students studying in Netherlands at present. There has been a 1362% or a six-fold increase in Indian students in the country since 2006.
India (88.2%), Indonesia (68.3%), and Russia (64.6%) have the top 3 largest shares of students attending research universities. The Dutch government has also set up Nuffic’s global network of education support offices (Neso) in some countries including India, to boost student enrollment. The Neso country with the largest absolute increase compared to 2020- 21 was India, with an extra 190 students (an increase of 6%), followed by Russia with an extra 159 students (+13.6%). India also remains the largest country of origin with a Neso by a considerable margin.