Record number students at Dutch universities

The number of students enrolled for a bachelor's or master's program at Dutch universities increased by 5 percent to a record number of nearly 290 thousand students this academic years, according to preliminary figures by umbrella association VSNU. The final numbers will only be available early next year, NOS reports.

The growth can partly be attributed to larger intake by pre-university education (VWO) and higher professional education (HBO). The number of international students also increased. They now make up about 19 percent of all students. 

According to VSNU chairman Pieter Duisenberg, it's good that the Dutch universities are attracting more students. "The tight labor market is calling for more and more highly educated professionals", he said to NOS. But he is also concerned. The Ministry of Education assumed a student increase of 2 percent when setting up the budget, so Duisenberg worries that there will be greater shortages in academic education. "The government has the responsibility to ensure that academic education in the Netherlands can remain top-level. That can only be achieved through substantial investment."

Stuent union ISO is also concerned. "An increase in the number of students is not necessarily bad news, but if you as a university or college can not handle that, it is annoying news", chairman Tom van den Brink said to the broadcaster. "If students have to sit on the stairs during a lecture, or have to move to a cinema or tent, it is difficult to make notes Then the quality of education will deteriorate very easily."

Van den Brink also points out that the 3 percent difference between the estimate student growth and the actual figures will have consequences for universities' budgets. "As a result the quality can not be maintained as easily. If you get more students per one lecturer, it will be difficult to provide good guidance", he said.  "We always continue to say that the cutbacks have to be reversed and that extra investments must be made in higher education. The government grant per student is decreasing more and more over the years and we have to deal with the effects.

The ISO also again raised concern about the increasing number of foreign students. According to the union, Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences are not equipped to handle this many foreign students.


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