Relatively many Chinese restaurant workers and students

© Berlinda van Dam / Hollandse Hoogte
In 2019, there were 36.5 thousand Chinese residents in the Netherlands . The vast majority were either employed or in education. Of all Chinese workers living in the Netherlands in 2018, over 43 percent were employed in the accommodation and food services sector. In addition, Dutch universities draw a large number of students and workers from China, including PhD candidates. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on the latest Internationalisation Monitor, which is focused on China.

The number of Chinese nationals residing in the Netherlands surged from 7.5 thousand in 2000 to 36.5 thousand in 2019. It should be noted, however, that there is an even larger group of people with a Chinese migration background: as of 2019, altogether 54.2 thousand residents were originally born in China. Among the group of Chinese (PRC) nationals, approximately 32 thousand or over 88 percent participate in the labour force (i.e. were aged 15 to 74 years). Over three-quarters are relatively young, between the ages of 26 and 45 years.

In 2018, Chinese employees (not including self-employed without personnel) living in the Netherlands were mostly employed in the accommodation and food services sector. Another large group were employed in the trade sector, namely 12.5 percent. Other sectors with many Chinese employees include specialised business services (9.2 percent), manufacturing (6.7 percent) and education (6.5 percent).

Chinese employees in the Netherlands, by sector, 2018
SectorShare of Chinese employees (%)
Accommodation and food services43.2
Specialised business services9.2
Real estate activities5.2

Chinese in Dutch higher education

Aside from employment, education is an important reason for Chinese nationals to migrate to the Netherlands. In the 2018/’19 academic year, China ranked third as country of origin among international students, after Germany and Italy. In the same year, 4,475 Chinese students were enrolled in Dutch higher education, constituting a share of 5.3 percent in the international student population. This was still 8.2 percent in 2012/’13. A striking development among Chinese students is the decline in Bachelor’s programme enrolments between 2013/’14 and 2018/’19 against a simultaneous increase in the number of Master programme enrolments.

Chinese students in the Netherlands

14 percent of Chinese students study at TU Delft

Of the Chinese students enrolled in the 2018/’19 academic year, more than one-third were studying at Delft Technical University, Wageningen University and the University of Amsterdam. Many Chinese higher education students stay on in the Netherlands after graduating; they often find a job on the Dutch labour market. For example: three years after their graduation, approximately one-third of the Bachelor alumni and around 40 percent of the Master alumni from China were either employed or self-employed in the Netherlands. Around one-fifth of the Bachelor alumni continue their education in the Netherlands with an advanced programme.

Chinese persons working in Dutch higher education (845 persons, including those holding a PhD) can mainly be found at the technical universities such as TU Delft, Eindhoven University of Technology and University of Twente. The latter three universities employ approximately 45 percent of this group.

Chinese student enrolments in higher education, 2018/'19
Instelling hoger onderwijsShare among Chinese students (%)
Delft University of Technology14
Wageningen University 11
University of Amsterdam11
University of Groningen8
Erasmus University Rotterdam7