Most students ever: Peak enrollment at Dutch higher education institutions

A record number of over 300 thousand bachelors and masters degree students enrolled at Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences for the 2019/2020 academic year, according to preliminary figures released by the association of Dutch universities VSNU. The association calls on the government to invest more in higher education, so that universities can keep up with the continuous growth in student numbers.

The number of students enrolled at higher education institutions in the Netherlands increased by around 4 percent. International students now make up 20 percent of the student population, according to the VSNU. There was a sharp increase in the number of students registering to study in the Nature and Behavior & Society sectors. Law, Economics and Technology are also popular study directions this academic year. 

"The continuing growth in the number of students at the universities provides the highly educated workforce that is needed to remain at the top as Dutch knowledge society. At the same time, the growth is putting even greater pressure on our employees and finances", VSNU chairman Pieter Duisenberg said. "That is why we ask for investment in higher education and for better management instruments for the international intake."

According to the VSNU, government funding is not increasing at the same rate as the student numbers. A planned increase on the interest rate of student loans has also been scrapped, which means that higher education is losing out on 226 million euros in the long term, the association said. "To be able to continue to offer top-level academic education and to tackle the workload at universities, substantial investments are needed instead of spending cuts", Duisenberg said.

The final enrollment figures will be released early next year.