More students than ever

Never before have so many students enrolled in a university study programme in the Netherlands; this according to figures of the Association of universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). The number of first year students this study year increased by eight per cent up to nearly 52,000 students.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Alain Reniers

According to VSNU, the rise is mainly due to the increased influx of higher secondary education students and a significant increase in the number of international students. In total, there are now roughly 265,000 students in the Netherlands, an increase of 2.5 per cent with respect to last year.

Preliminary registration figures from the universities show that the biggest increase, about 38 per cent, is visible in the broad bachelor’s programmes, such as liberal arts & sciences. There, the number of students rose from over 2,000 to nearly 3,000 students. The universities are also noting a massive increase in the behaviour & society, economics, language & culture and agriculture fields. All fields experienced a nine-percent increase.

Foreign students

The number of foreign students has been on the rise for years. The universities feel this is a positive development as, according to them, internationals contribute to a more ambitious study climate and result in new connections to foreign universities and organisations. Moreover, more students also result in more government subsidies and tuition.

The university does not yet want to disclose the extent of the increase of students at the RUG. Last Tuesday, the Education & Students department informed the Board of Directors of the student numbers. The RUG will issue a press release by the end of the week.


In September, RUG president Sibrand Poppema stated that the number of first year students had increased by ten per cent (400 bachelor’s and 300 master’s students). However, the university director also noted that the total number of students declined at the RUG. ‘We don’t know why this is, yet. The most favourable explanation is that the students graduate faster, but whether this is actually the case, I don’t dare say now,’ he said at the time.

Last year, the university had to deal with a significant decrease in student numbers. That year, 361 fewer students started a university study programme in Groningen compared to 2014.



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