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Many young people move internationally when relocating 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 represent the first step in a long career of international assignments and living outside of their home country. We took a look at the appeal of relocating to study in the Netherlands and why this small country is so appealing to many.

University rankings

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. The global rankings of universities within the Netherlands adds to the appeal of students relocating to study there abroad. Below is a list of the top universities within the Netherlands and how they rank globally:

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

International study in the Netherlands

Every year the number of international students relocating to study 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).  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.

The appeal of The Netherlands

There are many reasons why international students are relocating to study in 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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