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Substantial increase in Dutch students at the UG

Over 36,000 students in total this academic year
30 October 2020

In late October 2020, 36,023 students were enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree programme at the University of Groningen. This is an increase of over 9.8% compared to the academic year 2019-2020 (32,765). In 2019, the UG grew by 2.4% and in 2018 by 4.6%. The total number of registrations for 2020-2021 amounts to over 37,000 as students are able to register for more than one degree programme. The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) reports a national increase of 8% in the number of students at Dutch universities.
Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga is not unequivocally enthusiastic about the growth of the UG: ‘We were fearing a significant decrease in the number of registrations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but the opposite turned out to be true. We are now receiving more Dutch and European students in particular. These large numbers of students are presenting our lecturers with new challenges, which we will try to tackle as best we can using our Actieplan Onderwijs [action plan for teaching].’

Effects of the coronavirus pandemic

The number of new Dutch first-year Bachelor’s and Master’s students at the UG has increased substantially: from 7,902 in 2019-2020 to 9,290 this year. This increase can partially be explained by the fact that significantly more pre-university (VWO) pupils passed their final exams as a result of coronavirus measures. It is also believed that, as a result of the pandemic, more students have started university immediately instead of taking a gap year after secondary school. One explanation for the increase in Master’s students is the fact that the transitioning regulations have been relaxed during this period, so that more students have been able to transfer from senior secondary vocational education (MBO) to a university of applied sciences (HBO), from HBO to a university and from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s degree programme. The changes made to the Study Advice System probably also play a role in the total increase.

More Master’s students

A total of 7,320 new students have registered for the propaedeutic phase and 5,174 for the Master’s phase. Since 2009 there has been a steady increase in the total number of Master’s students at the UG: this academic year the number has increased to just over 11,500 (10,200 in 2019-2020).


The programmes that have had the biggest increase in absolute numbers of students are the Bachelor’s degree programmes in Business Administration and Law. Degree programmes that have experienced a relatively much higher intake include the Bachelor’s degree programme in Global Responsibility and Leadership, and the Master’s degree programmes in Media Studies and Mechanical Engineering. The faculty Campus Fryslân in Leeuwarden has grown to almost 200 students in total.

International students from 139 countries

A total of 3,203 new international students have registered for the 2020-2021 academic year. In total, 8,575 students from 139 foreign countries are now studying at the UG (7,683 in 2019), accounting for 23.8% (was 23.4%) of the total number of registered students. The University College Groningen, Campus Fryslân and the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences are the most popular among international students. 2,442 international students have German nationality (2,274 in 2019). Germany is followed by Romania (540), Italy (456), the United Kingdom (425), China (346), and Greece, France, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Spain, Poland, Ireland and India (all with more than 150 students).

Female/male ratio

The female to male student ratio is increasingly shifting to the advantage of women. Once again, there are slightly more women (53.4%, was 52.5%) than men at the University of Groningen. This is especially the case for the first registrations (54.4%). The percentage of female students is higher among international students than among Dutch students.

Last modified:09 November 2020 11.50 a.m.
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