Number of international students grows once more: where are they studying?

Image: HOP. Source: Nuffic.

This academic year, the number of new university students reached an all-time high. Never before have Dutch universities had so many people to teach. This can be partially explained by the increased amount of international students.

The latest internationalisation monitor published by Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education, showed that some universities of applied sciences are attracting many international students. The monitor is based on the definitive calculations related to the academic year 2020-2021.

Foreigners make 25 percent of student body 

At Bachelor's level, there's a striking difference between research-oriented universities (such as Utrecht University) and universities of applied sciences (such as Hogeschool Utrecht). At research universities, 19.8 percent of the students enroled come from abroad, compared to 6.3 percent at universitied of applied sciences.

But the difference diminished at Master's level, where research universities and universities of applied sciences receive about the same amount of international students: 24.4 percent in the former and 23.3 percent in the latter. However, universities of applied sciences offer fewer Master's programmes.

In absolute numbers, research universities are more popular among international students than universities of applied sciences. Last academic year, there was a total of 103,708 international students enroled in Dutch higher education institutions -- 40,851 pursuing Bachelor's degrees at a research university and 29,741 pursuing Master's degree at research universities. At universities of applied sciences, there were 29,863 internationals at Bachelor's level and 3,253 at Master's level.


As for which Dutch institutions are the most popular among foreign students, the monitor shows that the University of Amsterdam has seen the sharpest growth in the number of internationals, with about 2,000 new students from abroad.

But Maastricht University continues to be the Dutch university with the most internationa students: there, 55.3 percent of the students come from abroad. The University of Twente comes second, with "just" 30.3 percent.

Art schools
But the institution with relatively most international students was not a university. Nowhere is the proportion of international students as high as at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, where 76.7 percent of the students come from abroad.

Other art schools in the Netherlands are popular among international students as well, such as Hogeschool der Kunsten Den Haag, in The Hague, where at least 66.2 percent of the student body is not Dutch (that amounts to 1,089 students). The Gerrit Rietveld Academy (64.9 procent) and the Codarts Hogeschool voor de Kunsten (51.2 procent) also have a significant amount of international students.

According to the monitor, Utrecht University is the ninth university in the Netherlands according to the number of international students. Nuffic stresses that about half of the foreigners currently studying in the Netherlands would like to stay in the country. Among the biggest reasons for wanting to stay, those surveyed mention the quality of life, and the quality of education and research.


Afbeelding: HOP. Bron: Nuffic.