25 August 2023, by Victoria Séveno

As Dutch universities welcome a new cohort of students for the 2023 / 2024 academic year, figures released by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) reveal that the Netherlands has once again seen an increase in the number of new international students, with almost 18.000 internationals applying for a residence permit in the first seven months of this year. 

IND: Increase in international students in the Netherlands in 2023

Students from outside of the EU are increasingly turning to the Netherlands when pursuing higher education. Between January and July of this year, 17.870 international students applied for a residence permit via the IND – an increase of around 1.200 compared to the same period last year. 

An average of 98 percent of these permit applications are approved by the IND. The majority of these students hold either American, Chinese, Indian, Turkish or Indonesian citizenship. Around 14.000 international students will be able to collect their residence permit at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht on September 2 or October 7.

According to the IND, the 2023 figures are the latest in an ongoing trend for the Netherlands: “[We have] been seeing the same pattern for years with applications for a residence permit from students.” Over the past two years, the IND has seen the number of applications from students increase by over 1.000 each year – likely as a result of the end of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting restrictions.

Dutch universities struggling to keep up with rising student numbers

While the Netherlands was recently ranked as one of the best countries in the world for students, the fact remains that Dutch higher educational institutions are struggling to keep up with – and accommodate for – the rising number of students.

In addition to a national shortage of housing, the Netherlands is also seriously lacking in student accommodation; last summer, student unions warned that thousands of internationals faced homelessness, while universities asked students to postpone their relocation if they hadn’t found accommodation before the start of the academic year.

The Minister for Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf, has repeatedly said that action needs to be taken in order to limit the number of students coming to the Netherlands from outside of the EU – an idea universities have unsurprisingly taken issue with. Following the fall of the cabinet in July, it’s now unclear whether Dijkgraaf’s plans to reduce student numbers will be implemented following the general election in November.

Thumb: robert coolen via Shutterstock.com.

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