Photo description: Students in Groningen, the Netherlands.

International students

More and more students are looking beyond the border for their education, whether it is a complete degree course or a part of their study programme. Given the increasingly international labour market, it is important for students to gain experience abroad. Students themselves mainly look at it as valuable life experience, good for their personal and professional development. In many cases, studying abroad is a compulsory part of higher (often professional) education.

Meetlat-3-uitwisselingsstudenten_ENG HR ES GR PL SL * L T I T RO * BG * P T SE EE SK * L V * M T FI IE DE * BE * HU FR DK * CZ NL * A T * UK C Y L U 11.6% I n t er n a t i o n al s t ud e n t s i n h i g h er e d u c a t i o n , 2016 (*=2017) * Netherlands: e x cl . students in pri v ate l y funded education

At 47 percent, Luxembourg has the highest share of international students. These are students enrolled in a full degree course who completed all prior education in another country. They include students who are nationals of the country where they are studying but who completed their secondary education elsewhere. This partly explains Luxembourg’s high score.

In Cyprus, the United Kingdom and Austria, international students occupy shares of around 18 percent. The share was slightly over 11 percent in the Netherlands in 2017. Most international students in the European Union come from within Europe. Exceptions are Spain (with many South American students), Portugal (African and South American students), France (African students) and the United Kingdom and Finland (Asian students).

Mainly EU students in the Netherlands

In 2017, there were over 81 thousand international students in the Netherlands, equivalent to 11.6 percent of all students in higher education. They included 12.5 thousand students (15.4 percent) with Dutch nationality who had completed their prior education in a foreign country.

Three-quarters of all international students in the Netherlands were from the European Union, mostly Germany. Among the non-EU students were relatively many Chinese. Two-thirds of the international students came to the Netherlands for a Bachelor’s degree programme. This applied to 80 percent of the German students.

12% international students in Dutch higher education in 2017
47% international students in Luxembourg

International credit mobility

Another option is completing part of the study programme abroad. This is the so-called international credit mobility, with students going abroad for at least three months or 15 credits. A programme that facilitates this within the EU is Erasmus.

One-quarter of the 2016/’17 higher education graduates in the Netherlands (nearly 37 thousand students) had earned international credits. This means the Netherlands achieved the EU target of 20 percent credit mobility. Students in hotel management, foreign languages, tourism and leisure are most likely to spend time abroad for their studies.


Eurostat – Credit mobile graduates


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* Provisional figure
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2018-2019 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2018/2019 Average for 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, school year, etc., beginning in 2018 and ending in 2019
2016/’17-2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, etc., 2016/’17 to 2018/’19 inclusive

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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