Economics popular among non-western foreign students

People with a non-western foreign background in full-time higher education in the Netherlands most often choose courses in economics. This discipline also attracts most native students and students with a western foreign background at vocational colleges (hbo), but at university level (wo) behavioural and social sciences are most popular.

Half of non-western vocational college students study economics

In academic year 2001/’02, nearly 50 percent of non-western vocational college students were doing a course in the field of economics. Although native Dutch students and western foreigners at these colleges chose economics less often, it was still the most popular choice, accounting for 34 and 40 percent of students respectively.

Engineering second most popular at vocational colleges

For all ethnic groups at vocational colleges, engineering sciences are the second most popular discipline after economics. Nearly 20 percent of students choose this subject, regardless of ethnic origin. More native students do courses in pedagogical sciences, health care and agricultural sciences. Western foreigners relatively often choose arts, and non-western foreigners social sciences.

Agricultural science least popular

Only 0.5 percent of non-western foreigners study agricultural science at vocational colleges, compared with 3.5 percent of native Dutch students. For all ethnic groups this is the least popular discipline.

Full-time vocational college students by discipline and ethnic group, 2001/’02

University: law and economics for non-westerners

In 2001/’02 nearly half of non-western foreigners doing full-time university courses were studying law or economics. For native students law was one of the least popular disciplines, accounting for 12 percent of students. Native students are most likely to choose a discipline in the behavioural and social sciences, which account for 19 percent of native students. Engineering sciences are also less popular among native than among non-western foreign university students.

Full-time university students by discipline and ethnic origin, 2001/’02

Sciences and agriculture least popular

For all ethnic groups, university students are least likely to choose a discipline in the field of science or agriculture. An average 8 percent of university students do sciences studies; fewer than 3 percent on average – and fewer than 1 percent of non-western foreign students - choose agricultural studies.

Esther van Kralingen