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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.5 Cross-border learning mobility

Last update: 20 November 2020
On this page
  1. Policy framework
  2. Main cross-border mobility programmes for students in formal education
  3. Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal learning, and of youth work
  4. Quality assurance

Policy framework

In this section, Cross border-mobility is interpreted as internationalization.

Internationalization in education

Nuffic is the Dutch organization for internationalization in education, from primary and secondary education to vocational and higher education and research. Their ambition is international experience for every pupil and student. The Nuffic head office is in The Hague and they have 11 offices around the world. Together with national and international partners, they strive to further the development of pupils and students, as well as the development of teachers, professionals and organizations. Nuffic provides information about scholarships, internationalization, diploma recognition, study and work in the Netherlands and capacity building. 


Cross-border learning mobility in higher education

In the publication Outgoing student mobility in Dutch higher education, 2015-2016, Nuffic elaborates on cross-border learning mobility of students in higher education. In 2013-2014 approximately 13.700 internationally mobile Dutch students officially enrolled in a bachelor’s or master’s degree programme abroad. This amounted to exactly 2% of the total number of students enrolled in higher education in the Netherlands, putting the Netherlands’ outgoing degree mobility ratio at 2 in 100 students. Around two thirds of these students received a Dutch government grant or loan during their studies abroad.


Trends over time in mobility of higher education

The Nuffic publication points out that, in general, the Netherlands has seen an upward trend in degree mobility since 2006-2007. The sudden drop in the total number of outgoing degree students in 2013-2014 was at least partially due to a data quality issue. Over time, the number of Dutch degree students enrolling in programmes at a master’s level has gone up. Since 2009, the number of students enrolled in bachelor’s programmes abroad has grown 40% to 6,900. By comparison, the number enrolling for master’s degrees has since grown 100% to 3,100. Furthermore, given that master’s programmes average around half the duration of the typical bachelor’s programme, outgoing mobility for ‘1st-year’ Dutch degree students abroad is much higher at the master’s level.


Main cross-border mobility programmes for students in formal education

Governmental interest

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap) (OCW) is the responsible ministry for cross-border mobility in education.

The Ministry aims to stimulate international experience for students and devotes special attention to the subject of education and internationalization on the central government website.

The government encourages students to study or do an internship abroad as it will benefit Dutch economy. This includes students in higher education as well as in vocational education. On its website, the Government states that there is a need for well-educated employees with international experience to maintain the Dutch role in the world economy. By studying or doing an internship abroad, young people learn about and get to know other languages and cultures. At the same time, they learn what distinguishes their own country from others and what connects countries with each other. Also, foreign experience helps students to find a job more easily.

Many colleges and universities offer exchange programmes with foreign educational institutes. A student can study abroad partially or full time. About 17% of Dutch students in higher education studies abroad partially, and about 2,3% full time. In vocational education, almost 6% of the students follow full education abroad. Most of them engage in a (short time) internship abroad.


Holland Scholarship

Together with universities and colleges the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science distributes 1536 scholarships every year in the Holland Scholarship programme (only in Dutch). They are:

  • 768 scholarships for talented international students outside the European Economic Area (EEA), Europese Economische Ruimte (EER), who want to study for a bachelor or master degree in the Netherlands;
  • 768 scholarships for Dutch students who want to study, do an internship or research in a country outside the EEA.

Next to this, the cabinet creates other possibilities for internationalization for Dutch higher education. With the Bill on Stimulating internationalization of higher education and scientific research (only in Dutch) the cabinet unfolds their plans on the subject. With passing the law the cabinet wants to set rules and regulations for the following:

Promotion rights: to have the authorization to promote a scientist with a ‘doctor’s’ degree;

  • To allow Dutch institutions for higher education to ask permission to cater an educational path abroad;
  • To allow universities and colleges to lower or remit college fees for students who are embarking on a combined study in the Netherlands and abroad;
  • To be able to equate the Dutch degree of ‘doctor’ with the common PhD degree abroad;
  • To enable students to study abroad with financial support of their institutions’ profiling fund.

The Bill applies as of 1 September 2017, except for the possibility to allow Dutch institutions for higher education to ask permission to cater an educational path abroad. In 2018 the starting point of this part of the Bill will be published.


International experience for students in vocational education

The central government feels that more vocational students should be able to gain experience abroad. The EU-programme Erasmus+ offers extensive possibilities. Besides that, as of 2015 there is a national budget of € 5 million each year for the international exchange of students and teachers. This is part of the excellence programme (kwaliteitsplan) for vocational education.



A budget of almost € 500 million has been set aside for 7 years (2014-2020) for the internationalization of Dutch education as of December 2013 by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. This was announced in the national news and published on governments website (only in Dutch) on 10 December 2013. The money was put into the European programme Erasmus+. The budget is meant for exchange programmes in education, language education and internships through which both students and teachers in primary, secondary, vocational and higher education can acquire knowledge abroad.


Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal learning, and of youth work

New coalition

In a news item published on their website (26 October 2017), Nuffic reports about the inauguration of the new cabinet of that day: Rutte III. This is the third period of Prime Minister Mark Rutte to lead the Netherlands and again as the Minister at the Ministry of General Affairs. Despite the fact that the debate about the government statement still had to take place that week, Nuffic stated that one fact was clear: internationalization will be getting a lot of attention in the new collation. Foreign students will still be welcome. The new cabinet wants to make Dutch higher education more attractive for international students. The easy access has to be kept. For Dutch students, it has to become easier to study abroad.


English language

The new cabinet will see to it sharply that the law on education institutes only using English language with added value and sufficient quality, is applied correctly. Besides that, there has to be a sufficient number of institutes offering education in Dutch. Nuffic endorses this initiative and appreciates the use of English in education as a positive development. Good education in a foreign language offers students the possibility to improve their language proficiency and expands their view on the world. However, it is important to carefully consider an appropriate balance between Dutch and English with attention to language proficiency, international competences and application per field of expertise.  


Mobility of young people and youth workers

Key action 1 of the programme Erasmus+ stimulates the mobility of young people and youth workers in Europe. Young people boost their chances by participating in youth exchanges and volunteer projects. Subsidy is also possible for the professional development of youth workers by means of training and network activities.


Quality assurance

In the article Quality assurance and internationalization (November 2017), Nuffic writes that quality assurance is steadily gaining importance in the field of internationalization. Internationalization is no longer regarded as a goal in itself, but as a means to improve the quality of education. At the same time, proof of any connection between internationalization and the quality of education is limited. In the article, Nuffic gives information about three items that cover aspects of quality assurance:

  • Manual of Quality Assurance in Internationalization, by EAIE (June 2010);
  • GIQAC (Global Initiative for Quality Assurance Capacity) partnership, by the World Bank and UNESCO (2008);
  • Checklists to measure internationalization developed by Inholland University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands (2009), in accordance with the EQUIS accreditation standard,  that allow schools to measure ten different aspects of internationalization. The results are categorized in five different phases or levels of internationalization. The lists can be used as a baseline measurement with internationalization activities.