There are currently 291,277 students enrolled across Dutch universities, says the VSNU. That is a 5.3 percent increase over last year, and a little more than was predicted in October, based on earlier numbers.
If growth continues at this rate, universities will probably welcome their three hundred thousandth student in the next academic year. VSNU president Pieter Duisenberg: ‘The increase is good for the Netherlands as a knowledge society, but it will also be a challenge for the universities in terms of work pressure and educational quality.’
Applied sciences influx
The most interesting jump in student numbers this academic year was due to an influx of bachelor students from universities of applied sciences. Research universities often provide transfer programmes for applied sciences students who want to enrol in university, but these programmes are not paid for by the government.
Even so, 11,374 students with an applied sciences background enrolled at research universities this year: a 9.6 percent increase that the association says is signals ‘a growing need for cumulative options.’
The number of international students also increased this academic year. Of the 291,277 total students, 19.2 percent – a little less than 56,000 – were from a different country. In light of the predicted job market shortages and the Netherlands’ position in the international world of science, this is basically a positive trend. But the VSNU says we should take measures to control the influx.
The increase in student population is part of a larger trend; universities have been attracting larger numbers of students for some time. But government financing hasn’t been proportional to the student increase: the total government contribution per student has increased by twenty-five percent over the last fifteen years.
The consequences of this weigh especially heavy on university staff. Duisenberg: ‘It is our aim to provide the best education to all students, but we don’t want the work pressure on our employees to run rampant. Universities have been using their own means as much as possible, but the pressure on our institutes is something that concerns all of society.’