Dutch Survey Suggests Half of International Students ‘Could Shun Autumn Campus Start’

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Almost half of prospective international students enrolled in Dutch universities say that they will not study on-campus in September because of the coronavirus, according to a survey conducted by Dutch researchers.

The findings of the survey do not bode well for universities in countries that charge tuition fees, like the UK, US, and Australia, which are facing huge budget shortfalls due to the collapse of global student mobility and are looking for ways to predict the scale of lost students next academic year.

The study, conducted by Nuffic, asked nearly 1,000 prospective students from 10 countries outside the European Union of their plans for the next academic year, suggesting that while most still want to ultimately study in the Netherlands, a large minority have changed their immediate plans and are delaying their studies there.

Noor Groenendijk, team leader for student mobility at Nuffic, said:

On the one hand, we see that students are still applying and are still interested in coming, but we do think there will be fewer international students coming to the Netherlands. Students tend to stay closer to home in times of uncertainty

According to the study, 21% say that they want to defer coming to the Netherlands for a year, while 13.5% want a shorter deferment until February 2021. Meanwhile, 10% would prefer to study online and 4% are thinking about studying in their home country instead, travel restrictions being among their main concerns.

However, 39% say they have not changed their plans and want to start studying at a Dutch campus in September.

Yet, half also cited that complications with scholarships caused by the pandemic affected their decisions for future study. According to the report, Indonesia’s largest scholarship scheme has advised students to postpone the start of their study programme, while Mexico’s biggest scholarship provider will only inform successful candidates in August, leaving it too late for those planning to start in September.

Finances are another major concern, according to the survey, with Groenendijk stating:

The income of parents might have decreased, but students also have side jobs to save up for their overseas adventure. For many students, it’s not possible to continue to save up

Students from China and South Korea have listed access to healthcare in the Netherlands as important in their decisions to defer, possibly because, as Groenendijk suggests, the virus is seen as being more under control in these countries.

The number of students coming to the Netherlands from the 10 surveyed countries has more than doubled since 2006, although ‘it is uncertain whether this trend will continue into the 2020-2021 academic year,’ according to the study.

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