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by Han Konings, TU/e Cursor

The number of international students staying in the Netherlands having completed their studies is rising, reports Nuffic, the Dutch organization for internationalization in education. In percentage terms, TU/e is leading the way. Of the cohorts from 2006-2007 through 2012-2013, no fewer than 52.1 per cent stayed in the Netherlands, which in absolute figures translates as 1,085 individuals. Delft comes in second with 41 per cent.

Of all international students, almost a quarter has established themselves here five years after graduating. The total group of international talents numbers nearly 22,000, writes Nuffic. Of the cohort graduating in 2006, 2,610 set up home in the Netherlands. For the cohort graduating in 2012, that number increased to 3,515. According to Nuffic, higher education can be said to be a significant route of entry for knowledge workers coming to the Netherlands.

But it is a bit of a double message. The good news: there are more international alumni in the Netherlands and that is good for the economy. The bad news: an increasing part of them are leaving again after a short period.

stay rate studenten nuffic

Students who graduate in disciplines in demand in the job market, or expected to be so, remain relatively often. In particular, among internationals graduating in engineering and technology fields, relatively many remain resident in the Netherlands (41 per cent from universities, 26 per cent from universities of applied sciences, in total 3,135 graduates).

On average, university graduates stay in the Netherlands more often than graduates with a degree from a vocational higher education institution. This is particularly true of the universities of technology. Among the universities, TU/e has a strong lead in the top 5 with 52.1 per cent, followed by Delft (41 per cent) and Utrecht (31.6 per cent).

Stay rate

The figures have been taken from a study by Nuffic of the stay rate of international students. Conducted for the third time, this study of internationals now includes for the first time figures on those who study in the Netherlands while living across the border. In total, the study involved 85,880 international students.

Nuffic’s focus was those graduating in the academic years from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013. This reveals that of all the international students involved, within a year of completing their study a little over half had left the country. But with every year of staying on after graduating, the likelihood of leaving at some stage decreases. The analysis shows that after five years almost a quarter has stayed. Of these international alumni, more than 72 per cent has paid work. According to Nuffic, the retention of international talents boosts the funds of the Dutch Treasury. Research shows that at least 19 per cent of all graduates remain in the Netherlands for their entire lives. This provides the Treasury with 1.64 billion euros per annum. Were the Netherlands to manage to retain indefinitely all the graduates in the study still here after five years, that would add 2.08 billion euros to the country’s annual income.

“International students are important to our country,” says Freddy Weima, director of Nuffic. “Because they contribute to the quality of our education through the international classroom. But also economically, because they make an important contribution to our knowledge economy and our treasury. That does require good preconditions and a stronger joint commitment to keeping talent here”.