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Sharp rise in number of students enrolled at universities

Sharp rise in number of students enrolled at universities

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) published the final enrolment figures for the 2018-2019 academic year. This academic year, 291,277 students are enrolled at Dutch universities. This represents an increase of 5.3% on last year, a slightly higher percentage than we assumed in October on the basis of provisional figures. If this growth continues, the universities will most likely welcome their 300,000th student in the next academic year. In the words of VSNU President Pieter Duisenberg: 'This growth is positive for the Netherlands as a knowledge society, but universities are faced with ever-greater challenges in terms of workload and the quality of education.'

Record transfers from higher professional education
The most striking figure this academic year has been the number of transfers into Bachelor's programmes from higher professional education (HBO). Most universities offer transfer programmes for students who wish to make the transition, but do not receive government funding for this. Nonetheless, this academic year universities welcomed as many as 11,374 students with an HBO background – an increase of no less than 9.6% and an important signal that there is a growing need for consecutive degree opportunities.

Proportion of international students almost 1 in 5
The majority of new students find their way into university via pre-university education (VWO): 56% of those enrolling in the first year of a Bachelor's programme have a VWO background. The number of international students has increased this academic year. Of the 291,277 students enrolled, 19.2% come from abroad. In the light of the predicted labour market shortages and international scientific position of the Netherlands, this is fundamentally a positive trend, but measures are needed to keep the intake manageable.

Pressure on universities is increasing
The growth in the number of students ties in with a longer trend, as universities also attracted more students in the preceding academic years. Public funding is not keeping pace, however: the central government grant amount per student has decreased by a quarter over the past 15 years. The consequences are particularly noticeable for employees. Duisenberg: 'Although we are committed to providing all students with the best quality of education, at the same time the workload must not get out of hand for our employees. Universities are using their own resources to the greatest possible extent, but the pressure on our institutions is affecting society as a whole.'

To find out more about the intake figures of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands, visit our Facts and Figures page.