Visa Crunch

Netherlands experiences a sharp increase in the number of international student arrivals as COVID-19 curbs ease

According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), the number of international students at Dutch universities has increased by 10% as the new academic year begins, following a drop at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to, the President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), Pieter Duisenberg, told AD that the increase is not surprising because last year was quiet due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

‘There is a global trend of students seeking high-quality higher education at a low cost,’ according to Duisenberg. Earlier this year, VSNU reported that Dutch universities anticipate a 5% increase in the number of students enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in the coming year. As per the Immigration Service IND, the number of non-EU study visa applications surpassed 15,110 by the end of July this year, particularly in comparison to 12,310 study visa applications received by IND in 2020, a 40% decrease. The report went on to say that the majority of applications came from China, India, the United States, Turkey, and Indonesia.

Furthermore, this year’s international students have chosen to major in economics and business studies, with other options including social sciences, engineering, and arts and culture.The number has risen slightly, according to the Dutch organization for internationalization in education (Nuffic), because UK students were required to apply for residence permits this year as a result of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

Following the country’s relaxation of higher education measures in late April, the Netherlands announced that university libraries and study spaces would open to students, allowing more students to return to campus.

Universities in the Netherlands have already been in financial hardship, as per previous estimates by the auditing firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), losing a total of €1.1 billion. The VSNU confirmed these findings, stating that universities are indeed experiencing financial difficulties.

By 2019, there were 94,236 international students enrolled in full-time degree programs in the Netherlands, according to a Nuffic report. During the 2019/2020 academic year, international students made up 12.3% of the total student population in the Netherlands, with over 72 percent coming from an EEA country and over 27 percent from a non-EEA country.

Around 66 percent of international students went to a research university that year, while 34 percent went to a university of applied sciences.

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