One in six international students drops out in first year, study finds

Students in Delft. Photo:
Students in Delft. Photo:

International students are almost three times as likely as their Dutch counterparts to drop out in the first year of university, a study by the education ministry has found.

The figures show 17% of first-year students from outside the Netherlands do not complete their first year, compared to 6% of Dutch students.

A quarter of international students have not graduated after four years, against 9% of Dutch students.

However, those who make it through the first year have a roughly equal chance of going on to finish their degree: 65% of students from the European Economic Area, which includes Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein as well as the EU, completed their studies within four years.

For other international students the proportion was 61%, compared to 60% of Dutch students. Among students from outside the EEA the dropout rate in the first year was 21%.

Reasons not studied

The ministry examined data from the education funding agency DUO for students who enrolled at Dutch universities between 2011 and 2017.

The researchers did not analyse the reasons why students broke off their studies in the Netherlands – whether they gave up altogether or continued their degree in another country, for example.

The growing number of international students at Dutch universities has been the focus of debate in recent years about whether their numbers should be curbed.

According to the national statistics agency CBS, the number of students from outside the Netherlands has trebled in the last eight years and now accounts for 40% of first-year undergraduates.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation