Report: Growing Number of International Students Opt to Work in Netherlands After Graduation

Report: Growing Number of International Students Opt to Work in Netherlands After Graduation

A third of international graduates stay in the Netherlands to work

A growing number of international students are choosing to work in the Netherlands after graduation, according to a new report from CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics).

The data reveals that, since 2006, the number of international university graduates has increased considerably. In 2006/07, about 3,000 students got master's degrees, making up 11% of all graduates. By 2019/20, over 12,000 international students earned master's degrees in the Netherlands.

Steady rise in international graduates

Previously, the proportion of international students who stayed in the Netherlands to work remained relatively stable at over 20%. However, among international students who graduated in the 2018/19 academic year, 32% found work in the Netherlands one year after obtaining their diploma, a substantial increase compared to previous years.

According to the CBS, the likelihood of international students finding work in the Netherlands one year after graduation varies by field of study. Notably, graduates in the field of services (e.g., supply chain management) and those in fields like computer science, education, technology, industry and construction tend to secure employment a year later. Conversely, among international students who graduated in other disciplines, the percentage working in the Netherlands one year later falls between 24% and 31%.

Encouraging international graduates to stay and work in the Netherlands

According to the President of Wittenborg, Peter Birdsall, there are various reasons why international students continue to stay in the Netherlands after graduation.

Birdsall says that for non-EU graduates, the Netherlands' "Zoekjaar" (Search Year) visa programme is particularly attractive as it allows them to remain in the country for up to one year after completing their studies to search for employment opportunities.

"This is a great opportunity for graduates to find good jobs that will allow them to stay and build their new lives within Dutch society."

In addition, the country boasts a strong economy and ranks high in global quality of life indices. The Dutch government also offers a tax advantage called the “30% ruling” to highly skilled migrants, allowing them to receive 30% of their gross salary tax-free under certain conditions.

Birdsall further notes that the Netherlands is at the forefront in fields like water management, agriculture and sustainable energy.

"Coupled with its strategic location, networking opportunities and a rich cultural heritage, there are various factors that make the Netherlands an attractive prospect for international students."

Importance of attracting skilled talent

The CBS report comes amid ongoing discussions around the growing influx of international students enrolling in English-taught bachelor's and master's programmes in the Netherlands.

The PIE reports that international students have a high added value for the Dutch economy, especially in the first years after graduation. One of the many benefits is that international students continue to live and work in the Netherlands, subsequently contributing through taxes.

Birdsall told the publication that the country has an urgent need for young, highly motivated and skilled individuals to enter the job market, stay in the Netherlands, raise families and integrate successfully.

"For instance, simply offering a bachelor's in business administration without clear links to future jobs or a programme like psychology without ascertaining whether these graduates could bring something beneficial to society has led to criticism."

In the 2022/23 academic year, almost 123,000 international students were enrolled in universities in the Netherlands or higher vocational education courses. The presence of this international student body, accounting for 15% of the total student population, represents a robust international higher education policy, according to Birdsall.

For him, internationalisation remains vital, "as it’s part of the dynamic of the Dutch.

Higher education is the simplest and easiest way to implement this type of needed immigration. We do feel, however, that it’s extremely important to have a clear profile of the type of students being recruited and what their opportunities are after their studies. The link with business and society, and the impact that international graduates could have in the Netherlands, should be paramount when deciding which programme to offer."

WUP 26/9/2023
by Erene Roux
©WUAS Press