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NL: unis question int’l students numbers drop

The number of international students coming to study in the Netherlands from outside the EU could be as down as much as 50% according to the government’s Immigration and Naturalisation Service

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"We see an increase in enrolments the influx from non-EEA countries of 20%"

A report by DutchNews highlighted how figures showed that in the first seven months of this year, the IND processed 8,440 applications for student visas, compared with around 14,350 during the same period last year.

“These uncertainties have resulted in fewer applications”

However university leaders in the Netherlands have told The PIE News that the figures don’t paint an accurate picture- and that in some cases enrolments of international students have actually increased. 

“This year the applications are coming in later and there are far fewer,” said Jacqueline Neumann who works for the IND’s business team. 

“I think we have currently received about 50/70% of the normal number of applications. Educational institutions themselves are also working hard to see how they can offer their education, partly depending on what is possible within the current RIVM measures,” she said. 

“This is also a determining factor for the foreign students: can I get a visa, can I travel, but also what education will I be offered and is my embassy open to obtain an mvv? 

“These uncertainties have resulted in fewer applications. However, the top 5 countries where the students come from has not changed.”

“I have rather the impression that there is a backlog at IND”

Applications arrive at the IND just before or during the summer period. The system is set up so that students apply to institutions, and if they are accepted for study then the institution submits an application for a residence permit to the IND. 

But university leaders in the Netherlands have said there might be other explanations for the drop in these applications- and have noted that in some cases international student numbers have increased or stayed the same. 

“I have rather the impression that there is a backlog at IND in working on the Visa’s as they (and the consular officers abroad) have had to deal with Covid-lockdown issues,” Martin Paul, president of the University of Maastricht, told The PIE. 

Han van Dissel, dean Faculty of Economics and Business, at the University of Amsterdam told The PIE that the university has found that it has more students than last year in almost all cohorts. 

“Last year we had about 60% international students in our bachelor. This year it remains roughly the same. The big difference is that about half stayed home and decided to follow their program on-line,” he said.

According to van Dissel, these students do not apply for a residence permit at the IND. He said that whether they will come to Amsterdam in the course of the program or whether students that traveled to Amsterdam will decide to go home is “too early to tell”.

“Our figures are not final yet and we expect to have final results after 1 October”

The picture of how many international students who have enrolled at universities in the Netherlands is complex, as Bertyl Lankhaar, spokesperson executive board at the University of Twente explained.

“Our figures are not final yet and we expect to have final results after 1 October. But to give you an idea about our current influx of bachelor students, we can share with you that the influx from the Netherlands and Germany is comparable to last year,” she said. 

“Influx from EEA-countries decreases 16%, while we see an increase in enrolments the influx from non-EEA countries of 20%. The increase from non-EEA countries is made possible by investing in Twente Pathway College (foundation year),” she said. 

However in the case of masters students the data told a different story according to Lankhaar. The number of enrolments from both EEA and non-EEA countries showed a decrease of around 50%- which she said is most likely related to Covid-19. 

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