Overall, the number of international students increased by 12 percent this academic year, with some 115,000 new international students enrolling in a full degree programme at a Dutch higher education institution. The majority (72 percent) are from Europe.

New top 3

As in previous years, the largest group of foreign students comes from Germany, while the second spot on the list is occupied by Italy again. New to the top 3 this year is Romania, in third place, followed by China and Belgium.

Poland, Spain, Romania, France and Greece show the largest percentage growth. The number of European students increased by 14 percent, while the number of international students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) increased by only 7.6 percent.


Enrolment numbers from the UK have shown a significant decline in the past two years. The number of new registrations fell 24.3 percent this academic year, the largest drop in the top 100 countries of origin.

This is most likely due to Brexit, which was finalised in 2020. This is the first full academic year in which UK nationals are no longer part of the EEA, requiring them to pay institutional tuition fees. These are often thousands of euros higher than the ‘regular’ tuition fees for European students.

Economic programmes

In higher professional education, programmes in the economic domain attract the most foreign students. As for individual programmes, Language and Culture has the highest overall number of international students (35.6 percent). At research universities, Liberal Arts and Sciences programmes take the crown, with 46.3 percent.

Art programmes

In absolute numbers, the University of Amsterdam attracts the most international students. The only university of applied sciences in the top 10 is Fontys.

Maastricht University has the highest percentage of international students: more than half of the university’s student body is comprised of international students (56.3 percent). Foreign students are also relatively well represented at Dutch art academies again.


Read more

More international students in 2021, also at EUR

More and more international students are coming to the Netherlands. On balance, the…