State Secretary Zijlstra aims to hold on to foreign students

It should be more attractive for foreign students to remain in the Netherlands after they graduate. The national treasury will benefit greatly if this group enters the Dutch labour market after graduation and stays here to work for a longer period of time.

State Secretary Zijlstra wrote this in a letter to the House of Representatives. He bases this view on a study conducted by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) into the benefits of internationalisation in higher education. This study shows that if one in five foreign students remains in the Netherlands to work after graduating this could have a positive effect that could be worth some 740 million euros a year. Even with a retention of 2.5% – i.e., if one in forty students remains here – the balance of costs and benefits would still likely be positive.

Job-search year

To increase the retention of these students in the Netherlands, the information provision must improve. It seems that many graduates from countries outside the EU are unaware of the job-search year, which enables them to find a job in our country as a knowledge worker within one year. A more active alumni policy, better contacts with Dutch companies and further studies into the possibility of retaining graduates are also necessary.


To reap the benefits of student mobility, the high quality of students is a crucial condition. For this reason, State Secretary Zijlstra has agreed on measures with educational institutions to keep the quality of foreign students up to standard. Institutions may tighten their selection criteria, but they must also stop offering programmes that are primarily aimed at German students and the German labour market.