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Dutch universities expect another big increase in applications

Dutch universities expect the number of applications for Bachelor’s programmes to increase once again in the coming academic year. Pieter Duisenberg, President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU): ‘Our initial forecasts show that the number of students applying to enrol at universities will increase by about 5%. Last year, student numbers grew by 12.8%. We are barely keeping our heads above water as it is, and this increase will only make things worse. The new government must ensure basic funding for the long term.’

Additional investment required
Over the last 20 years, the number of students has doubled from 164,000 in 2000 to 327,000 in 2020. At the same time, funding per student has decreased by 25%. Duisenberg: ‘As far as we can tell now, the next academic year will see another sharp increase in student numbers. Without additional investment by the government, this will eventually affect the quality of education, increase the workloads of our lecturers and staff and damage the knowledge and innovation capacity of the Netherlands.’ A PwC study has already shown that universities are chronically underfunded and that a €1.1 billion investment is needed to remedy this.

Applications versus enrolments
The number of applications may differ from the actual number of enrolments. Anyone who wants to study in higher education can apply for up to four study programmes through Studielink. An application is converted into an enrolment when a prospective student meets the admission requirements. Examples of such requirements include the submission of a diploma, a direct debit mandate for the payment of tuition fees and, in the case of study programmes with an enrolment quota, the acceptance of the placement certificate. This process usually takes place in the summer. The final enrolment figures for the 2021–2022 academic year will be available in January 2022. The VSNU will communicate the provisional enrolment figures in early November 2021.

International students
The application deadline for study programmes in Dutch higher education is quite late compared to other countries. That is why international students apply early in the year. Currently, there are about 40,000 applications from international students for the 2021–2022 academic year. However, experience shows that the vast majority of them do not end up studying in the Netherlands. Last year, for example, there were almost 35,000 applications from international students, but only 15,500 of those students actually came to study in the Netherlands.


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Ruben Puylaert


+316 13 86 10 69

Gijs Kooistra

Deputy spokesperson

+316 82 05 72 66