Netherlands attracts more foreign students; worrying trend, student union says

A total of 122 thousand international students from 162 different countries are currently studying at a Dutch university or university of applied science, 10 thousand more than last year, according to an analysis by Nuffic. Dutch universities' continuing focus on attracting as many international students as possible is a worrying trend, according to student union LSVb.

According to Nuffic, the Dutch organization for internationalization in education, nearly 90 thousand of the international students are working on a complete degree in the Netherlands. The rest are here for a short time, for example on an exchange program. Art courses at universities of applied sciences, University Colleges, and master's programs in business and technology are particularly popular among students from other countries. 

In total 14.8 percent of all new enrollments came from international students. At research universities, 3 in 4 master's level programs are offered exclusively in English, and 1 in 5 bachelor's level programs. At universities of applied sciences, that is 25 percent of master's level programs and 5 percent of bachelor's level programs. Around 80 thousand Dutch students and 40 thousand international students are currently enrolled in a program offered only in English. 

Maastricht University is the Dutch university with the most international students, followed by the University of Amsterdam and the University of Groningen. International students are now the majority in less than 10 percent of programs, according to Nuffic. Most foreign students come from Germany (22,125), China (4,475) and Italy (4,077).

Student union LSVb calls the ever increasing number of international students a worrying trend. "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", the union said in a press release."

The large number of English-only programs is also a matter of concern for the union. "We now too often see examples of programs in which the quality of lectures deteriorates or Dutch students suddenly have to compete with international students for a place at the program. That must not be the intention." The LSVb thinks that a program must only be offered in English if that adds value to the program, accessibility is guaranteed and extra attention is paid to quality.