British student numbers in the Netherlands plunge 24%

A meeting for international students in Leiden. Photo: Brandon Hartley
A meeting for international students in Leiden. Photo: Brandon Hartley

The number of British students studying at a Dutch university has plunged 24% in the past year, as Brexit leads to fee hikes and other issues, according to figures published by international education agency Nuffic.

In total, just 2,372, British students were enrolled at a Dutch higher education institution in the current academic year, a drop of 760 on a year ago.

Non-EU students can pay upwards of €6,000 a year for a bachelor’s degree course, compared with the basic fee for a Dutch or European student of under €2,200.

Throughout the EU and EEA, however, numbers continue to rise. International students currently account for around 14% of the student body in the Netherlands, following a 12% rise in the current academic year.

Three in four international students come from another EU country – mainly Germany, Italy and Romania.  China accounts for the biggest group of non-EU students.

In total, international students accounted for almost 20% of admissions to universities and HBO colleges in current academic year.


In February, Dutch universities again called on the government to give them the option of limiting the number of foreign students attending some courses because of the pressure of numbers.

Universities have been campaigning since 2018 for measures to better manage foreign student numbers, arguing that financing is not going up sufficiently to cope with demand.

The organisation suggests three measures to reduce the flow of international students: introducing a limit on student numbers in English language courses, limiting the number of non-EU students per course and an emergency brake so that numbers can be capped if applications rise too hard and threaten course quality.

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