Studying in the Netherlands
Do you harbour dreams of studying in the Netherlands? Dutch universities want to limit the number of international students they admit -- for quality control. Source: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Are you planning to study in the Netherlands? The country is growing in popularity among international students, but Dutch universities want the government to give them the option of capping the number of foreign students attending some courses.

The Dutch university association UvN said international students account for 80,000 of the 340,000 students currently registered at one of the country’s 13 universities, putting too much pressure on universities, reported

The enrolment of international students in Dutch universities has been an ongoing issue that universities say is overwhelming them.

studying in the Netherlands

Studying in the Netherlands can be appealing for international students as English is widely spoken in the country. Source: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Studying in the Netherlands: Learning disrupted?

Studying in the Netherlands is popular for a growing number of international students thanks to the country’s top universities and English-taught programmes. There are 13 Dutch universities ranked within the world’s top 300 in the QS World University Rankings 2022.

Despite that, Dutch universities have been campaigning since 2018 for measures to better manage international student numbers, which rose 14% in the current academic year, said the portal. Student numbers are increasing, but financing is not going up sufficiently to cope with demand, said universities. 

Chairman Pieter Duisenberg was quoted saying that “international talent is essential” for both research and industry, but the increase in foreign students is currently too significant to maintain the high quality of courses and is putting too much pressure on staff.

The association suggested three measures to reduce the flow of international students:   

  • Putting a cap on the number of students in English language courses
  • Limiting the number of non-EU students per course 
  • An emergency brake so that numbers can be capped if applications rise too hard and threaten course quality

About 73% of international students currently at a Dutch university come from within the European Economic Area, mostly from Germany. China accounts for the biggest group of non-EU students, said the report.

Quoting data from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), reported that the number of study visa applications from third-country students reached 15,110 by the end of July in 2021, compared to the corresponding time in 2020 when IND admitted 12,310 study visa applications, which number declined by 40%.

Most applications for studying in the Netherlands are filed by students from China, India, the US, Turkey and Indonesia, it said.