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Relocating to study?

When many people think of international relocations, it is often in the context of companies sending high-ranked employees from one side of the globe to another. But relocating is not limited to high-powered corporates with a high salary. Many young people move internationally to study, and one country which contains a high number of international students is The Netherlands. For many, the time they spend studying abroad may represents the first step in a long career of international assignments and living outside of their home country.

Universities are ranked academically every year by a variety of global organisations. Although the highest number of top universities are located in the USA (16 out of the top 20), The Netherlands scores surprisingly highly for such a small country. Four common ways of measuring this are the Times Higher Education ranking (THE), QS World University Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU, often called “Shanghai Ranking”) and the US News Best Global Universities Ranking. According to the rating in 2017, seven appeared in the Top 100 and a number of others within the first 500. Ratings for the most highly rated Dutch universities are listed below:

World Rank             University

47                            Wageningen University and Research Centre

58                            University of Amsterdam

62                            Utrecht University

65                            Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

67                            Leiden University

71                            Erasmus University Rotterdam

74                            University of Groningen

88                            Maastricht University

125                          Radboud University Nijmegen

154                          VU University Amsterdam

(Data taken from

Every year the number of international students in The Netherlands continues to rise, and they come from all corners of the world. Between 2007 and 2011, there was a 54% increase in numbers from 19,000 (2006) to 54,500 (2011). Such a dramatic increase led to some Dutch political parties to call for restrictions on the numbers of students amid fears they were taking the places previously filled by Dutch nationals. In both 2006 and 2011 the highest numbers came from  Germany, China and Belgium. By the 2016/2017 academic year however, the nationality breakdown had shifted as per the below:

• 1. Germany: 22,189

• 2. China: 4,347

• 3. Italy: 3,347

• 4. Belgium: 2,976

• 5. United Kingdom: 2,778

(Data taken from

The academic year 2016-17 has the highest ever recorded number of international students attending Dutch Universities: over 112,000, make up of 164 different nationalities. The most popular subjects were Economics & Business, Human & Social Sciences and Engineering.

There are many reasons why international students choose to come to The Netherlands, aside from the surprising number of top ranked universities in such a small country. One key reason is that many courses are taught in English. Another is that Dutch tuition fees are considerably cheaper than in many other European countries. The annual tuition fees for a degree programme or course at a Dutch university start at approximately 1,900 EUR/year for EU students, although costs are higher at private universities or for non-EU students

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