Numerus Fixus in the Netherlands

Certain university programmes — in our region as well as in the Netherlands in general —receive more applicants than they can place; the level of education is high, and places are much sought after.

If the number of applicants exceeds the number of available places, universities have to select among the total number of applicants. This situation is described by the Latin term 'Numerus Fixus': only a fixed number of students are getting in (in English the Latin term ‘numerus clausus’ is often used; closed number). In the past, the government was in charge of the selection procedure, usually by means of a lottery, in which students with higher secondary-school grades would have an increased chance of getting into their elected programmes, still with a degree of luck involved. Prospective students with an average of eight points out of ten or higher (according to the Dutch grading system) were automatically awarded a place in their preferred programme. Since 2017, Numerus Fixus selections have been decentralised, which basically means that universities design their own methods to decide which students are enrolled and which students are not. The good news is that this is no issue for students applying to non-selective degrees, like most of the English-taught programmes at Dutch universities.

For the complete lowdown on Numerus Fixus, check out Study in Holland's article.