Where have the Dutch prospective students gone?

Too vague an idea of Eindhoven as a student town, prospective students who are more interested in the healthcare sector, and an ongoing population ageing in Brabant and Limburg. There are several reasons why intake numbers of Dutch first-year students have dropped this year, Dean of the Bachelor College Ines Lopez Arteaga says. In addition, physical promotional activities had to be held online this year due to corona. “But in early October we will once again organize an open day on the campus for potential bachelor’s students.”

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Figures from the BI Portal show that intake numbers of Dutch prospective students at TU/e have dropped significantly: from 1,645 last year to only 1,357 this academic year. A drop in numbers of 288 students. Cursor asked Dean Ines Lopez Arteaga what caused this decline. “This fall, we asked market research company Markteffect to investigate the factors that play a role in the decision-making process of prospective students in times of corona,” she says. “The most commonly listed reasons that emerged from this research were in line with our expectations.”

Prospective students find it hard to form a clear idea of the university and of a student town, Lopes Arteaga says. “During corona times, they often tended to fall back on stereotypical ideas about these things when they were making their decision. Student towns such as Delft and Utrecht are therefore more popular. We also saw that the corona crisis has led to an increased interest in fields devoted to corona recovery. The field Health is the clearest example of that.” Conversely, interest in the field Engineering has dropped with more than twelve percent among Dutch prospective students nationwide.


The Dean says that TU/e’s strategy over the past few years for recruiting prospective students has focused on diversification – spread recruitment throughout the country – and on increasing the intake of international students.

Lopez Arteaga: “We did so in view of the advantages of an international classroom, but also because of the expected demographic decline in the number of students with a pre-university, or VWO, diploma. That strategy seems to be working well, considering the increased interest among international students for English-taught bachelor’s programs. Since the decline in intake numbers of Dutch students affects us more significantly this year than the national market average, these two effects fail to cancel each other out by a small margin.” That probably would have been the case if the bachelor’s program at Mechanical Engineering would also still have been fully English-taught this year. However, that department opted for bilingual education so as not to burden that program with excessive intake numbers again this academic year.

Make visible

During the upcoming year, the university plans to put renewed effort into national recruitment, the Dean says. “Those efforts will focus on making visible all the things that Eindhoven has to offer. We will do so by visiting high schools again with our information teams, whereas our colleagues at other institutions will predominantly continue to offer information online. On-campus activities will be expanded to reinforce the image of TU/e as a great university for students to study at. We will be the first Dutch university to organize an on-campus open day again, on October 2. Content wise, we intend to concentrate more on our unique educational concept Challenge-Based Learning this time. This way, we expect to counter the downward trend.”

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