This academic year, the universities broke another record: according to the interim enrolment figures, never before have so many people studied at universities. That growth is mainly due to the large influx of international students.

The monitor is based on the definitive counts over the academic year 2020-2021.


Quarter from abroad

In the bachelor programmes, there was a a big difference between academic education and higher professional education (hbo). In academic education, 19.8 percent of students came from abroad, while the percentage in higher professional education was only 6.3 percent.

In master programmes, however, that difference was much smaller. In relative terms, around as many hbo master students came from abroad as university master students: 23.3 percent to 24.4 percent. Except that higher professional education has far fewer master programmes.

In absolute numbers, academic education was much more popular than hbo. Last academic year, there were 103,708 international students in Dutch higher education. At the universities, there were 40,851 bachelor students and 29,741 master students. Universities of Applied Sciences had 29,863 international bachelor students and 3,253 master students.


Which institutions attracted the most internationals last academic year? In academic education, their numbers increased everywhere, unlike in hbo. The highest rise was at the University of Amsterdam, with just under two thousand new internationals.

However, Maastricht can be hailed as the most international university. There, more than half of the university student population came from abroad: 55.3 percent. At the second ranked University of Twente, this was ‘only’ 30.3 percent.

Art Academies

Nevertheless, the institution with the most international students in relative terms was not a university but a university of applied sciences. Nowhere was the number of international students greater than at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, where 76.7 percent of the students (563 in total) came from abroad.

Other art academies were also popular with international students last year. At the University of the Arts The Hague, an amazing 66 percent of students came from abroad (1,089 students). And the Gerrit Rietveld Academy (65 percent) and the Codarts University for the Arts (51 percent) also hosted quite large numbers of internationals.

Interestingly, there was only one university of applied sciences in the top 10 of higher education institutions with the largest number of international students: Fontys at number 7, just above VU Amsterdam, Utrecht University and the University of Twente.

After graduating, many international students plan to stay in the Netherlands. Over half, according to a Nuffic survey. The respondents mentioned the high standard of living and the quality of research and education as the main reasons for not leaving.