Again record number of university students

Again, more students are enrolled at Dutch universities. And again, the university association asks for more money and for ‘instruments’ to regulate international influx.

VNSU attributes the increase in the number of students to the growing influx of internationals. (Photo: Justyna Botor)

Dutch universities are as popular as ever: provisional counts show that 340,700 students are enrolled for this academic year. This is an increase of 4 percent in comparison with last year.

A new record for Dutch universities has thereby been set, although the number of students in Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes is growing less quickly than in the previous academic year, when the student population increased by 8 percent. Student numbers have doubled since the year 2000.

International students
According to the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the growth is due mainly to the number of international students. This year around 29 percent of the new students in Bachelor’s programmes come from abroad, whereas the figure had remained at 24 percent for the past two years. The majority of international students in Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes come from Europe: 60 thousand out of almost 80 thousand.

‘There’s a limit to our abilities’

In the opinion of the VSNU the internationalisation has a downside. “There’s a limit to the ability of our universities to absorb the ever increasing intake of international students and to offer high-quality education”, says VSNU chair Pieter Duisenberg. He is once again asking the government to provide “control instruments” for study programmes so as to make the intake manageable.

Fewer students from pre-university education
At the same time, the number of first-year students coming from Dutch pre-university education has fallen by 14 percent. That number is again at the level of two years ago. During the coronavirus crisis the intake was at an all-time high because the central written final exam was cancelled and many more pupils obtained their diploma. Additionally, because of the travel restrictions fewer successful candidates opted for a gap year.

The VSNU is calling on the parties involved in the coalition negotiations to make a larger budget available for universities. The money they get per student from the State is, in the view of the umbrella organisation, outweighed by the growth of the student population.

The final enrolment figures will be announced at the beginning of 2022. Last year’s provisional counts were fairly accurate: it turned out that one thousand more students than predicted were enrolled.

HOP, Josefine van Enk
Translation: Taalcentrum-VU

HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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