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The Indian Students Association (ISA) of TU Delft. (Photo: ISA)

Indians became the largest demographic of students to join TU Delft. From 219 students in 2016, 365 first year M.Sc. students enrolled in 2017. This increase is not a sheer cosmic coincidence, but the result of a confluence of factors, including the university’s visibility in international college rankings, increasing fees in the US and UK and the Netherlands’ determined wooing of Indian students.

Why the Netherlands?

For the past decade, the Netherlands has been working towards internationalisation in education. This entails not only introducing international curricula, teaching courses in English (when relevant), but also reaching out to international universities and students. “The Dutch government is trying to stimulate international talent and recognises its value for the Netherlands,” says Anne Lutgerink, communications advisor at Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education.

In 2016, Nuffic NESO India expanded their office with a clear goal to attract more students. “India is a fast-growing economy, with a growing middle class and a growing number of students who want to study abroad,” said Jasmin Beverwijk, director Nuffic Neso India. Based in Bangalore, the office also liaises with the embassy in New Delhi and the consulate in Mumbai – thus geographically spread out across the country.

A few months ago, they also introduced a new scholarship

“One of our key strategies is to have much more online presence, and strong promotion with effective targeting,” she added. Each of their monthly webinars has 80-100 registrations and topics include scholarships and living in Holland. Their virtual education fair brought together Dutch universities and 627 virtual visitors from across India. They also host Living Labs which bring Dutch professors together with Indian students.

“For the first time, we hosted a Study in Holland fair in tier-two cities: Noida and Nagpur. These cities are bigger than Amsterdam, so it makes sense for us to reach out to them”. A few months ago, they also introduced a new scholarship which they hope will continue to grow.

Why TU Delft?

“TU Delft has very good rankings and a growing word-of-mouth reputation in India. Besides, among other European countries, Netherlands is most friendly and everything is accessible in English,” said Abhinav Sharma, president, Indian Students Association (ISA), TU Delft.

Earlier this week, ISA conducted an anonymous online survey among students to chart their trajectory to TU Delft. Of the 29 participants, 15 students cited College Rankings as the first time they heard of the university. Word-of-mouth, education fairs and social media also emerged as points of introduction. For 86% of the respondents, College Rankings were the main deciding factor when opting for Delft.

Students mentioned course content and research excellence

Most also cited secondary reasons, which included course content and research possibilities (55%) and lower fees than UK and US universities (34%). When asked what set TU Delft apart from other universities, 15 (51%) students mentioned course content and research excellence: “association with industries”, “diversity of courses”, “experienced professors”, and “practical approach”. One respondent specifically mentioned Yes!Delft and the DreamTeams.

Explaining more reasons that make Delft attractive, Sharma said that a lot of students opt for courses related to sustainability and alternative resources, topics that are of interest in India at the moment. As a frontrunner in this area of research, Netherlands becomes an obvious choice for students.

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