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Student mobility trends in the Netherlands

For more than a decade, NUFFIC has annually published data on mobility trends in Dutch higher education. Originally, the information was provided in successive editions of the BISON Monitor. Since 2010, the collection has been called Mapping mobility. Mapping mobility 2011 was published this August and contains a wealth of material.  The publication covers both diploma mobility (i.e. mobility in pursuit of a full programme) and credit (temporary) mobility, and examines movements into and out of the Netherlands. A special section provides mobility figures from other countries for comparative purposes, while a ‘thematic’ chapter deals with mobility between neighbouring countries in Europe.

According to the publication, student mobility in the Netherlands continues to grow.  The share of foreign diploma seekers at research universities has in the last few years grown from 7% to 10% and that in the Hogeschol sector from 6% to 6.5%; the national average stands at 8%.  Almost half of the foreign students in the Netherlands (46%) are from Germany, though China and Belgium are also important source countries.  Astonishingly, across all sectors of higher education, over three quarters of foreign students are enrolled at the bachelor level. In a disciplinary perspective, “economics” (probably including business studies) enrolls the highest absolute numbers, but agriculture continues to have the highest shares of foreign students. In relative as well as absolute terms, Maastricht University attracts most foreign students.

Unsurprisingly, for a highly developed higher education system with robust international marketing, the Netherlands is a net importer of students. The figure of some 82 000 foreign students in the Netherlands is set against approximately 42 000 Dutch abroad. The latter number corresponds to 2.7% of total enrolment in the Netherlands. The major destination countries for Dutch students are, in this order, the UK, Belgium, the US and Germany.  Interestingly, when measuring the share of Dutch students with a temporary study abroad experience in the course of their entire studies (until graduation), the Netherlands seems to be very close to the Bologna target of 20%.

Netherlands Organization for Cooperation in International Education (NUFFIC)