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Foto: Maartje Strijbis (UvA)

Preliminary registrations lower, fewer freshmen expected

Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau,
9 juli 2024 - 13:08

If the omens are not deceiving, lecture halls will soon be slightly less full. Universities and colleges are counting several thousand fewer applications than at this time last year.

By July 1st, the preliminary number of applications for college bachelor’s programs was 4.5 percent lower than last year around that date. In academic education, the contraction is hitting slightly less hard, but there are still 2.2 percent fewer applications for bachelor’s degree programs.
This is far from being conclusive. Last year, universities counted 99,000 provisional applications, while only 59,000 students actually began the program: 40 percent less.
The same goes for universities of applied sciences. They had 142,000 preliminary registrations and only 88,000 first-year students showed up.

Some who did not enroll took a gap year or chose to study in another country

An in-between year
Some who did not enroll took a gap year or chose to study in another country. Others applied for several programs, ultimately choosing to study at one.
But the trend is clear. As predicted, colleges can prepare for a reduction in the number of first-year students. This is also happening at universities, although they attract more foreign students and have many students in master’s programs.
Education and engineering
Universities only give overall figures, but colleges also cite percentages for different sectors.
Teacher training is holding up well and is expected to lose hardly any students. Engineering, on the other hand, is down 6.3 percent and behavior and society 6.6 percent. But the blow seems to be hardest for programs in agriculture and natural environment, which draw nearly 11 percent fewer students.
There are also figures for the colleges’ two-year associate degree programs, but they are always a bit more ambiguous. They count fewer applicants now than last year, but their total numbers are relatively small, and usually associate degree programs enroll more students than had applied before the summer. Last year there were 12,700 thousand freshmen.
The formal enrollment tally takes place on October 1st. All signatures must be in place by then. Usually institutions announce how many students they have a month later. Following verification, final figures follow in the spring, on which government funding is based.