International students worth 1.5 billion a year

International students mingle during introduction week. Photo: DUB

A lot of foreign students come to the Netherlands to attend higher education institutions. The Dutch government offers European students the same financing possibilities it does to Dutch students, which is sometimes met with opposition: why should the Netherlands educate so many students from abroad?

The short answer is that ultimately they generate money. That's been once again confirmed by a study carried out by Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education, into the so-called stay rate of international students and the jobs they get in the Netherlands.

The number of people still living in the Netherlands five years after their graduation has held steady at 23-24 percent since 2010. But students from outside the European Economic Area are more likely to stay (38 percent) than EEA students (19 percent). One of the explanations is that the latter can settle anywhere within the EEA, whereas the visas available to graduates from outside the EEA usually offer a lot less freedom of movement. In addition, non-Europeans are more likely to come to the Netherlands to pursue a Master’s degree, so most of them are ready to enter the job market after that.

But things differ from one study programme to another. Graduates in technical studies are the most likely to stay in the Netherlands: of those who attended a research university, more than 40 percent stay. The majority of them find work at Brainport Eindhoven. Amsterdam is the most popular employment market for graduates in other areas.

This year’s intake of new international students will be worth around 1.5 billion euros, Nuffic reckons. The vast majority, almost 900 million euros, will be generated by the more than 9,000 university students from outside Europe. A further 370 million will be provided by the 22,000 university students from EEA countries. With a revenue of just under 39 million euros, the 7,700 students in higher professional education from EEA countries are the least lucrative for the Netherlands.

Roughly three-quarters of those that stay in the Netherlands for five years or more have a job — most of them are working for the government, in the education sector or in healthcare.