Spotlight on Europe 2017: How to attract international students to the Netherlands

Spotlight on Europe 2017: How to attract international students to the Netherlands


What better way to kick off 2018 than with some exciting news!

The number of international students choosing to study in the Netherlands has reached a record high. The global market share of international students choosing to study in the Netherlands has increased by 15%. Over 112,000 international students have attended a Higher Education institution in the Netherlands, paving the way for thousands more. 

With high-quality education, favourable tuition fees, and plenty of English taught courses, the Netherlands is one of Europe’s most popular study destinations. Students are drawn to the high quality of life on offer, liberal attitudes and diverse cultures – and who can blame them?

pexels-photo-256541But, how are you going to make sure it’s your institution they apply to?

NUFFIC, the top dog for international education in Dutch Higher Education has implemented a network of support offices in nine strategic growth markets around the world including Brazil, China, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Thailand & Vietnam – and they’ve had pretty awesome results, with the number of inbound students from these target countries rising four-fold in recent years.

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“Make it in the Netherlands” is an initiative NUFFIC created to encourage a larger proportion of inbound students to stay after graduation. The guys at NUFFIC did a survey and whilst over 50% of international students said they wanted to stay in the Netherlands after graduating, only less than 30% actually did. This is a pretty big problem for the economy as the taxpayer money spent on international students is only recouped if those students remain in the country to work after graduation. Aspects of the programme include Dutch language training, career planning and help finding a job, and easing legislation to make the visa process a bit easier.

A significant IT and tech skills gap is beginning to appear in the Netherlands, and it’s starting to impact on the economy. It makes sense that their plan for internationalisation focuses on science and technical students. The science and technology students, which the Netherlands needs, are more often found studying in Germany – where four in ten foreign students are enrolled in technical programmes.

Institutions need to get their thinking caps on and get creative with their marketing campaigns to ensure they get the students and skills they need.

Our top tips below for engaging with the Netherland’s priority markets


  • Employability and career prospects a course offers is a major factor for Chinese students in the decision making process of choosing an institution, so emphasise any industry links or internship opportunities in your recruitment strategy
  • Peer reviews and ‘unofficial’ perspectives are important to Chinese students, so using current students or alumni as advocates in your marketing would be very effective


  • Cultural life, location and the student experience are all particularly important factors to students from Mexico, so be sure to feature what your institutions offer in these areas in your marketing strategy. 360 degree videos are an innovative way of capturing the essence of your campus and local area and catching the interest of prospective students. Check out this example that we made for The Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
  • Students from Mexico are interested in understanding what an institution can offer that will give them an advantage in achieving internationally in-demand careers, so use content that clearly explains how choosing your course will give them an advantage in competitive markets.


  • Brazilian students studying internationally has grown. Email and social media are great platforms when engaging with this market and with mobile usage at a high, make sure your website is mobile optimised.


  • The most popular search platforms include Viva, UZone and Katadata, so using these for display advertising would be a good way to reach prospective students.
  • Indonesian students are often concerned that overseas qualifications won’t be transferable when they return home, so using terms such as “internationally recognised” in your messaging will really resonate.

Get in touch with our team of digital experts, to learn how we can revolutionise your digital marketing strategy and generate more student enrolments for your institution.