Niks meer missen?
Schrijf je in voor onze nieuwsbrief!
Foto: Marc Kolle

Internationalization of universities increases further

Dirk Wolthekker,
1 december 2023 - 10:37

By the 2024-2025 academic year, nearly half of university bachelor’s degrees will be in English. In addition, international students now occupy one-third of the available spots in fixus programs. This is according to analyses of the Keuzegids Universities 2024, released today.

This observation comes just when internationalization has become a hot topic in politics. The issue played an important role in election campaigns, especially for the PVV and NSC, the big winners of the election of the House of Representatives. Both parties want to reduce the internationalization of higher education.

The universities in Maastricht, Rotterdam, and the UvA in particular attract many students from across national borders

English bachelor’s degrees continue to increase

In recent years, the number of English-language programs has steadily increased. This coming academic year, 47 percent of university bachelor's degrees will be in English, compared to 43 percent in the academic year 2021-2022. Of all university bachelor’s degrees, 34 percent can be pursued exclusively in English. Many programs also offer a Dutch-language variant in addition to the English-language program. In relative numbers, most programs offered in English can be found in interdisciplinary fields, economics and business, and engineering and design, according to the guide, which is partly based on the most current figures from Nuffic, the internationalization organization for education.


The percentage of international students in programs with a numerus fixus also increased slightly. These are programs that admit a limited number of students. In the 2020-2021 academic year, the percentage of international students was 28 percent and increased slightly each year thereafter. In the current academic year, 33 percent of students are international. This means that the number of spots for Dutch students in these studies is decreasing slightly.


Relatively speaking, for years the population of international students has been the highest at programs in international and European law in Groningen and Maastricht and interdisciplinary bachelors such as the University College in Amsterdam. The latter program is offered jointly by the UvA and VU. In addition, major bachelor’s programs in economics, communication, and psychology have many international students. The universities in Maastricht, Rotterdam, and the UvA in particular attract many students from across national borders. It should be noted that Maastricht University has a formal collaboration with the Belgian University of Hasselt, just across the border. Many Maastricht students come from there as well.

The UvA is at the bottom of the ranking of best universities in the Netherlands


The universities with the highest number of international students are Maastricht, Rotterdam, and the UvA. At the UvA, this mainly concerns the programs in business administration, economics and business administration, psychology, and communication sciences. Other popular programs among international students at the UvA are liberal arts (86 percent international students), media and information, and actuarial sciences (both with 82 percent international students).


A regular feature of the Keuzegids is also the student ratings of universities on specific topics. The UvA usually ranks just below the median, but sometimes it ranks very high. The assessment of the English spoken by teachers at the UvA  for example scores a 4 on a scale of 5. This is quite good and just below Maastricht, which tops this list. 


Of course, there is also an overall ranking of the best universities in the Netherlands. Of all the Dutch universities, Wageningen is the best: 19 programs were rated, scoring a total of 70 points. The UvA is at the bottom of this list with 56 points, measured when assessing 52 programs. For the record, the UvA does not languish at the bottom on its own: Delft and Rotterdam also score towards the bottom with 57 points. The VU sits just above with 57.5 points.