In the 2016/17 academic year, a record 112,000 international students attended Dutch higher education institutes. Of them, 81,000 are taking a full degree course, while the remainder came for shorter stays, largely involving exchange programmes, Nuffic said. Nuffic is the Dutch institute for the internationalisation of education.
The good quality of Dutch education, the large number of English-language courses and the relatively low costs were the main reasons most foreign students opted for the Netherlands, Nuffic said.
A total of 164 nationalities were represented, making the student population even more diverse. The highest number of students came from Germany with 22,000 students, followed by China (4,300) and Italy (3,300).
Many international students stay to live and work in the Netherlands after they have graduated. The government micro-economic think tank CPB estimated that international students contributed an annual €450m to the Dutch economy in 2012.
The number of international students in the Netherlands increased to 18% of the total in the current academic year. Maastricht University has always headed the list and this year has more foreign than Dutch students for the first time. Groningen and Erasmus in Rotterdam are also popular with foreign students, Nuffic said.