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Nuffic NESO

The number of international students in the Netherlands continues to rise

7 September 2007, 00:00

The number of international students in higher education in the Netherlands continues to rise. There are now 49,750 of them, an increase of 1,250 on last academic year. Around 37,000 of them are enrolled on government-funded study programmes.

The number of international students in higher education in the Netherlands continues to rise. There are now 49,750 of them, an increase of 1,250 on last academic year. Around 37,000 of them are enrolled on government-funded study programmes. Germany is by far the most common country of origin, accounting for about 35% of international students on government-funded programmes.

China and Belgium take second and third place, respectively. This and other interesting information can be found in the monitor on International Mobility in Education in the Netherlands, an annual study conducted by Nuffic together with the European Platform and Cinop, the centre for expertise in the innovation of vocational and adult education. The importance of internationalization is also growing in secondary education.

Almost 70% of schools participate is some form of mobility programme. Around 10% of schoolchildren take part in an exchange during their time at school. Germany is the most popular destination country, followed by Belgium and France. However, the popularity of Spain and Turkey is rising sharply.

Dutch schools are not always successful when trying to organize an exchange with the UK, as UK institutions tend to prefer partnerships with Spain, Italy and France. International mobility is minimal in primary education, with only 6% of Dutch primary schools involved in some way. The number of people taking part in mobility programmes in the professional education sector is also lagging behind. Despite a doubling over the last four years, only just over half of one percent of students go abroad to study or do a work placement.

This makes the Netherlands an average performer in Europe. The doubling was achieved despite the fact that work placement scholarships from the EU’s Leonardo programme were halved. Most institutions made up the difference from their own funds. BAND is a bilateral programme between the Netherlands and Germany, and has recovered following a fall in the number of participating students and teachers in 2005. The most recent information on the number of Dutch students in a foreign country relates to the 2003-2004 academic year.

This is because the enrolment data from the destination countries is first collected centrally for processing. This enables the OECD to make reliable estimates on outbound mobility in the member countries (relates only to study programmes registered by central government). The figures show that in 2003-2004, around 13,000 Dutch students were enrolled at higher education institutions in a foreign country. Only 2,750 of them were studying outside Europe. Besides the 13,000 enrolled students, another 5,250 students went abroad to take part in an exchange.

The United Kingdom is the most popular study destination, followed by Belgium, Germany and the United States. For the first time, the report attempts to measure the number of Dutch students who went to school outside the Netherlands. In many cases, these are the children of expatriates, emigrants or international couples. Around 7,500 were counted, although problems with the reliability of counting this category means that there may in fact be as many as 37,500.

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