Netherlands popular destination among foreigners too

More Dutch students heading abroad for their degree

An increasing number of Dutch students are pursuing a full Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in another country. In 2009, only 1.7 percent of students took this option. By 2019, this jumped to to 2.9 percent, informs Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education.

Students from other countries are more travel-minded, Nuffic’s report reveals. In the other EU member states, the average is 3.3 percent, while among the rich industrialised countries of the OECD, the figure is as high as 5.9 percent.

The Netherlands is a popular destination among them. There are four to five times more people coming to study in the Netherlands than Dutch students pursuing a degree abroad. To Nuffic qualifies this phenomenon as an imbalance.

98 countries
The Dutch students who did opt to study abroad in 2019 were spread across 98 different countries. About half of them took on a loan to finance their studies abroad.

The vast majority of Dutch students abroad are actually not that far away: they are studying in Belgium. The UK and the US were second and third on the list of most popular countries in 2019. However, due to Brexit, the UK’s popularity has almost halved by now.

For many years, the top five was completed by Germany and France but Nuffic’s researchers note that Turkey has now overtaken France in terms of popularity. Approximately 700 Dutch students are currently enrolled at a higher education institution in Turkey.

It id more common for Dutch students to go abroad at Master’s level than at Bachelor’s level. Of all internationally mobile Master’s students, 23 percent complete their entire programme abroad. Among Bachelor’s students, this figure is only 4 percent.

The vast majority of Dutch students only venture abroad for a short time, to do internships or exchanges. In the 2018/2019 academic year, 14,000 students took advantage of a grant from the Erasmus+ exchange programme.

Spain was a particularly popular choice among these students in 2019, followed by the UK and Germany. Again, the UK no longer participates in the Erasmus+ programme. Opportunities for Dutch students to obtain a grant for a ‘non-participating’ country such as the UK are limited.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of students going on exchanges dropped significantly. One in four graduates were able to look back on a foreign exchange experience in 2018/2019. But two cohorts later, this proportion had fallen to only one in seven students because of all the lockdowns and restrictions.

The effects of the pandemic appear to be temporary, however. In November 2021, over 8,800 students were studying abroad once again the basis of their student funding. Education Executive Agency DUO is already in a position to provide this data but figures based on international statistics are less up-to-date.