Rising number of international students 'worrying' - Dutch student union
A "worrying" trend. Source: Shutterstock

Dutch student union LSVb has criticised the rising intake of international students into the Netherlands this year, calling it a “worrying” trend.

According to NL Times, there are at least 122,000 international students in Dutch higher education institutions during academic year 2018-18, the highest number ever recorded, an analysis by Nuffic found. This upward trend has adverse impacts on the country and its citizens, the union said.

In a press release, they said: “Universities do everything they can to attract as many international students as possible, but do not take the consequences into account. We call on the universities to take a step back and reflect on their strategy.”


One area of concern for the union is the large number of programs offered exclusively in the English language. Three out of four master’s programs and one out of five bachelor’s programs at its research universities are now English-only. Currently,80,000 Dutch students and 40,000 international students are enrolled in such programs.

These are the same programs that the union describes as having “deteriorating quality”  and where “Dutch students suddenly have to compete with international students for a place at the program”.

“That must not be the intention,” it wrote. Rather, a program must first ensure that it adds value and guarantees accessibility to local students before being allowed to be taught in English. Quality control is crucial too.

“Internationalization is a good thing but if the over-representation of foreign students becomes a problem, universities should ask themselves if they should be offering certain subjects in English,” said Pieter Duisenberg, chairman of the Dutch universities association, VSNU.

Maastricht has the highest share of
international students in its entire student population (58 percent). Source: Shutterstock

International students represented 14.8 percent of all new enrollments this year. Coming from 162 different countries, close to 90,000 are pursuing a degree in the Netherlands, while the rest are enrolled in shorter courses, such as exchanges, internships, foundation years or independent research. Close to 5,000 PhD students in the Netherlands are from abroad.

Their top five countries of origin are: Germany (22,125), China (4,475), Italy (4,077) Belgium (3,273) and the United Kingdom (3,109).

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