Student numbers rise 8%, as coronavirus halts gap year plans


A record number of students have signed up for Dutch university courses this year, and coronavirus has had little impact on international student numbers either, according to new figures from universities association VSNU.

In total, 328,000 students are now taking either a bachelor’s or master’s degree course, a rise of 8% on the start of the previous academic year. The increase means the number of students at the Netherlands’ 13 universities has doubled in 20 years.

The latest increase is putting further pressure on universities and their staff, VSNU director Pieter Duisenberg said. ‘This will only strengthen our case for more structural investment in academic education.’

The VSNU says the rise in student numbers stems in part from the 15% increase in the number of first year students, who are no longer able to take a gap year because of coronavirus. In addition, there has been a 10% increase in the number of college students signing up for a pre-master’s university course.

Despite fears that fewer international students would register for a Dutch university degree this year, numbers are relatively unchanged, the VSNU said. Despite the restrictions on travel, 10% more students from the EU, plus Norway and Iceland, have registered for a Dutch university place, the organisation said.

There has been a drop in the number of new foreign students from outside the EU, but exact figures are not yet available, a VSNU spokesman told More details will be published in January when the definitive figures are published.

Foreign students accounted for some 12% of the total number of university students last year.

Earlier this month, the hbo college association said the number of new first year students had risen 9.5%.

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