‘International students worth 1.5 billion a year’

Most international students leave after they graduate but almost one in four are still living here five years later. After deduction of expenses, these highly educated people contribute 1.5 billion euros a year to the treasury.

A lot of foreign students come to the Netherlands to study in higher education and the government funds the Europeans among them in the same way as Dutch students. That sometimes meets with opposition: why should the Netherlands educate so many foreign students?

Because ultimately they generate money, according to a study carried out by Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education, into the so-called stay rate and the jobs of international graduates in the Netherlands.


The number of people staying on in the Netherlands after five years has held steady at 23-24 percent since 2010. But students from outside Europe, such as Chinese students, are more likely to stay here (38 percent) than former students from the European Economic Area (19 percent). One of the explanations for this is that the latter group of students are allowed to settle anywhere within the EEA, whereas the visas of graduates from outside the EEA give them a lot less freedom of movement. In addition, the non-Europeans are more likely to come for a Master’s programme at a university, so they are ready to get to work afterwards.

But it differs from one study programme to another. Graduates in technical studies are the most likely to stay in the Netherlands and more than 40 percent of them have a university education. Most of them find work in Brainport Eindhoven. The most popular employment market for the remaining graduates is Amsterdam.


So this year’s intake of new international students will be worth around 1.5 billion euros, Nuffic reckons. The vast majority, almost 900 million euros, will be generated by the more than 9,000 university students from outside Europe. A further 370 million will be provided by the 22,000 university students from EEA countries. With a revenue of just under 39 million euros, the 7,700 students in higher professional education from EEA countries are the least lucrative for the Netherlands.

Roughly three quarters of those that stay on here have a job, most of them with the government, in education or in healthcare.

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