Ministry expects a lot more international students


The universities of applied sciences will never have as many students in the future as they do this year, the Ministry of Education expects. The universities, however, will keep growing.

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These expectations can be found in the new estimates of the number of students in the coming years. The ministry’s forecasts go up to the year 2060.

Last year, a total of 400,000 students studied full-time at the universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. In the next twenty years, that number will decline to less than 350,000 students, according to the ministry’s predictions. After that, the number will rise again.


© HOP. Source: forecasts Ministry of Education, 2018. Number of students in universities of applied sciences

In the past few years, it became apparent that it’s harder to estimate the number of students at universities. There’s a clear picture of how many high school students do the vwo level, but how many students will come here from abroad? The ministry is hesitant to look beyond the year 2023/2024.

The results are still spectacular. In that year, 70,000 international students are expected to be enrolled at universities in the Netherlands, according to the ministry forecast  – of which 20,000 come from outside Europe. That’s a sharp increase: last year, there were 47,000 international students at Dutch universities.

What comes after? Time will tell. The forecasts continue up to the year 2060, but it’s only speculation after the year 2024. Then, the numbers simply follow demographic trends.


© HOP. Source: forecasts Ministry of Education, 2018. Including international students. Study programmes that aren’t split are divided between Bachelor and Master. Additional uncertainty from academic year 2024/2025 onwards.

In the previous years, more students enrolled than the ministry had estimated. This was one of the causes of a budget deficit at the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance are now working on making the estimates more precise.

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