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To go or not to go? Study abroad plans of Dutch students in 2020/21

A report recently released by Nuffic in The Netherlands sheds light on the study abroad plans of Dutch students and pupils in the academic year 2002/21, contouring some not so positive, yet expected, trends in international education. The brief reportAre students still going abroad in 2020/21? A study on the impact of the corona crisis on Dutch students’ travel plans – gives insights into the plans of 654 Dutch students, out of which 89% were aiming to go abroad the next academic year, for either a full degree, for credit mobility (study/minor or internship) or for a gap year abroad.

On the bright side, the majority (59%) of respondents said that their perceptions of international experiences had not been affected by the crisis, with them being just as positive as before about the prospect of going abroad. However, 73% of the surveyed students indicated that corona has already had a significant impact on their plans to go abroad. Half of the respondents have changed their related plans, and about a third indicated they would postpone going abroad for the time being. Some of these students (one in seven) cancel their international plans altogether, because they cannot postpone them without delaying their studies. A quarter of respondents were still unsure about the feasibility of their plans, facing too many uncertainties to take a decision at present. The survey also shows that degree-seeking students are less likely to change their plans to study abroad compared to exchange or gap year students.

Asked about alternatives to physical mobility, the vast majority of respondents (79%) said they did not see the currently available online options as an alternative, and would still prefer to physically go abroad as soon as possible. Nevertheless, students were positive about the online preparation for international experiences, and stress the need to receive information about feasibility and upcoming opportunities, primarily from higher education institutions and the central government.