Over one-third of international students remain in the Netherlands 5 years after graduating

Increasing numbers of international students are coming to the Netherlands to further their education and stay on to work, thanks to the government’s campaigns and initiatives.

In the 2014/15 academic year, Dutch universities saw nearly 90,000 international student enrolments, a jump up from the previous year’s 70,389. But not only are they coming to study – more are also deciding to stay in the country to work after finishing their studies.

According to a recent report published by EP-Nuffic, a Netherlands-based organisation for international cooperation in higher education, the European country’s rate of retaining foreign students was higher compared to the global average.


In the ‘Welcome, to work’ report, made in collaboration with Bureau Blaauwberg, up to 38 percent of international students who graduated from the 2008/09 cohort remained in the Netherlands up to five years after finishing their studies, which is more than the global average of 25 percent reported by the OECD.

Of that percentage, 71 percent are employed, demonstrating the efforts of the government to train foreign talent and get them into the local labour market.

The report said: “Substantial numbers of students come here because of the quality and reputation of the education system, without even a thought of remaining in the Netherlands to work afterwards.”


However, based on the data, it appears that during their studies, “a majority of graduates wish to seriously evaluate their prospects in the Dutch labour market, or for further study.”

In fact, the report credits higher education institutions for the high retention rate: “When it comes to increasing the stay rate and retaining international students in the Dutch labour market, to date the institutions have taken the lead.”

Out of the 7,350 international students graduating in 2008, 70 percent were still in the country the following year, while two years later, up to 3,540 students, or 48 percent, remained.

Of the students choosing to stay on, more tend to come from outside of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), which the report attributes to the fact that “since [non-EEA students] have already made a big decision, it makes sense that they would put in more effort to stay on after graduation.”


EP-Nuffic plays a major role in showing foreign students career opportunities available to them in the country after they graduate, particularly through its ‘Make it in the Netherlands’ programme, which aims to reduce red tape for foreign students looking for work.

“Where possible, we’ve decreased this red tape and made sure that more information is provided in English,” a spokesperson from EP-Nuffic told The PIE News.

“One of the main results was that the possibilities for the so-called ‘orientation year’ in which students are allowed to stay in Holland to look for work has been simplified and elaborated,” they said.

Through the scheme, international students can receive help and guidance on formulating a viable career path and encouraging them to pick up the Dutch language.


The report also makes recommendations of additional measures that could be implemented to encourage international students to stay in the country upon graduation.

“Increased efforts would benefit, for example, from more regional collaboration and a comprehensive national, social, and economic agenda,” added the spokesperson.

“Municipalities, businesses, not-for-profit organisations and higher education organisations should better exploit cross connections.”

Image via Unsplash

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