The number of international students in Dutch higher education has doubled in 10 years’ time, rising from 41,000 to 81,000. However, new figures have shown that most graduates who settle in the Netherlands do so in the Randstad area.
For years now, Maastricht University has been the champion among universities and universities of applied sciences in terms of the number of international students – it has 9,000. The University of Groningen is closing in on Maastricht University, with 5,400 international students, slightly more than the 5,300 studying at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Just like 10 years ago, Fontys University of Applied Sciences is the leader among the institutions for Higher Professional Education, educating 4,800 international students. Number 2, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, has 2,000 fewer. Avans has 780.
International graduates tend to avoid more remote areas of the Netherlands. The Randstad is very attractive, says Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education. This may be because of the number of international companies established in the region.
7 years after graduation, more than 2,000 international students live in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague, while only 100 live in South Limburg and another 100 in Groningen.
Nuffic believes that the Netherlands can benefit from having international students. Even if only some stay, this has a positive economic impact. According to estimations, 1 in 4 international students remain in the Netherlands for the rest of their lives. It is thought that their economic activities bring in €1.6 billion for the treasury.
Germans represent the largest group of students, with over 22,000 currently studying in the Netherlands. Alongside the many Chinese (4,350) and Italian students (3,350), there are around 3,000 Belgian and 2,800 UK students. Study programmes in management, economics, and psychology are popular.
However, the situation was very different just 10 years ago. At that time, the main groups of students came from Germany, China and Belgium, with only a couple of hundred from countries including the UK and Italy.
As Nuffic has no data that reveals where the graduates studied (university or university of applied sciences), it is not clear which institutions are better at keeping their graduates in the Netherlands than others.
The number of international students has attracted criticism, which concentrates on the excessive ‘anglicisation’ – or ‘Englishing’ – of higher education in the Netherlands. However, the director of Nuffic, Freddy Weima, defended international students in the Netherlands stating that this international aspect ultimately leads to better education.