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Provisional enrolment figures at universities equal to last year; sign that more pre-university students are taking a gap year

And: more and more students are choosing to study natural sciences


In the 2022 academic year, approximately 340,000 students are enrolled at a university. This is similar to the previous academic year, according to the provisional enrolment figures of the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL). While around 4,000 more students are enrolled in Bachelor’s programmes, there are around 4,000 fewer students enrolled at Master’s level. This makes the total number of enrolments roughly equal to last academic year. UNL President Pieter Duisenberg: ‘The stabilisation of student numbers at our universities gives us the space to use the substantial investments from the coalition agreement to get the fundamentals in order when it comes to workloads and more time for research. However, the expectation is that student numbers will continue to increase in the years ahead. In the future study with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, we will examine what this will require from universities and from measures taken by the ministry.’


Pre-university students delay starting university
Based on the provisional figures, the intake of pre-university students into Bachelor’s programmes has dropped by 1,200 students compared to last year. This is due in part to a decrease in the number of pre-university students who obtained their diploma in 2022: in 2021 this figure was 36,800, while in 2022 it fell to 35,600. In addition, fewer pre-university students are transitioning directly to university. While 72% of pre-university students did so in 2021, the percentage dropped to 67% this year. This may be because more pre-university students are taking a gap year first, since they were unable to go abroad during the pandemic. Another reason could be the reintroduction of the basic grant with effect from the 2023-2024 academic year. As a result, prospective students might be postponing their studies so that they can receive a basic grant right from the start. The number of students transferring from universities of applied sciences to research universities is also slightly lower than last year. 


More students choose natural science programmes
A notable development is an increase of around 1,200 students in the natural sciences, including programmes such as ICT, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and Biology. There has been a significant drop in enrolment in economics programmes, with student numbers declining to pre-pandemic levels.


Slowed growth in international student enrolment numbers
Of all students enrolled at a university, approximately 85,500 are international students, with around 72% coming from Europe (the European Economic Area, or EEA). In total, this is 6,000 more than last academic year, representing a 7.2% increase. Since 2017, the growth in the number of international students has always been between 12 and 15%. This is the first year that this growth has slowed. The decrease could be due to the active communication with prospective international students urging them to arrange their accommodation well in advance if they wish to study in the Netherlands. The number of international students in Bachelor’s programmes has increased 11% compared to last academic year; these students mainly come from the EEA. Overall, 31% of newly enrolled Bachelor’s students are international students. In Master’s programmes, international enrolments have risen by 500 students. The total percentage of international students enrolled is 25%, the majority of whom come from the EEA.


Disclaimer and note to editors: 
The figures published today were audited and aggregated by UNL in coordination with universities. While the overall image is reliable, it is impossible to break down the figures in greater detail. The definitive figures for the current academic year will become available in February of 2023 upon release of the 1cijferHO file, after which UNL will make them public. 

The Bachelor’s intake is defined as the number of students who were not previously enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme at a Dutch university. The Master’s intake is based on the number of students who enrolled in a university Master’s programme for the first time. The growth in the number of enrolments may differ from the intake, partly due to the graduation rate. 


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