Science has a strong international orientation, a fact that is clearly reflected by Dutch universities. For example, a large number of foreign students come to study for a semester, complete a full degree programme or to earn their PhD at a Dutch university. Dutch universities also attract many foreign researchers. In addition to the group of international students and researchers in the Netherlands, a large number of Dutch scientists and science students choose to continue their academic careers abroad.
International students in the Netherlands
In the 2014-2015 academic year, 32,476 foreign students studied in the Netherlands, an increase of 16% compared to 2012-13. However, these figures are relatively small compared to our international neighbours such as the UK, Germany, Belgium and France. It is important to Dutch universities and the government to get international students into Dutch lecture halls as this helps create an 'international classroom'. The presence of international students broadens the learning experience and world view of Dutch students by bringing them into contact with different cultures. Furthermore, international students have a positive effect on the academic success and ambition levels of Dutch students.
The goal of the action plan 'Make it in the Netherlands' is to attract more international students to the country. Furthermore, in collaboration with the universities, the Dutch government strives to ensure that a larger number of these international students get a job in the Netherlands after their graduation. To recruit more international students, the range of programmes offered in English will be further expanded. The universities will also ensure that international students are properly welcomed and supported and help them to integrate, e.g. by offering Dutch language courses.
The majority of international students who come to the Netherlands to complete all or part of a study programme are German. The next largest group come from China, followed by Italy in third place, Greece in fourth and the UK in fifth. Between 19% and 27% of international students opt to stay on in the Netherlands after their studies. International students that remain in the Netherlands contribute at least 740 million euros per year in Dutch taxes.
Dutch students abroad
Conversely, as the international students arrive in the Netherlands, a large number of Dutch students are leaving for destinations beyond our borders. By completing all or part of their programme at a foreign institution, students broaden their cultural knowledge, improve their English skills and build up an international network. A period of study abroad can also be a great stepping stone to an international career. International experience as part of a study programme is very attractive to many potential employers.