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THE Netherlands: Applying to University - Must read

What is ‘Numerus Fixus’?

Find out what Numerus Fixus means, and how it affects you if you plan to study a course in the Netherlands.

Education in the Netherlands

Numerus Fixus is a known method within the Netherlands for limiting the number of applicants to study at a university. It is a popular method throughout European higher education, where it is also known as ‘numerus clausus’.


What does Numerus Fixus mean?

For the Latin aficionados out there, the term translates simply, as ‘fixed number’ (while ‘numerus clausus’ translates as ‘closed number’).


Historical significance

In the past, rules similar to Numerus Fixus were closely tied to prejudice towards a particular ethnic group within a country; presumably to ensure they did not have access to particular forms of education and could not progress in terms of social mobility. Examples include the limitation of Jewish students in Poland and Hungary, during the 1920s. However, this is most definitely not the case in regards to the Netherlands today .


Why does Numerus Fixus exist?

In the case of Dutch universities and institutions, Numerus Fixus is in place for courses where there is excessive demand; this way, all applicants have a fair and equal chance of being selected. Medical Science and Law are two popular sources subject to Numerus Fixus, so take note if these are courses you are interested in.


How does Numerus Fixus work?

In the Netherlands, a lottery determines those students who successfully get on to Numerus Fixus courses. These lotteries can be administered by Studielink (the official online system to register with Dutch universities), or by universities themselves. Those conducted by the university themselves offer some flexibility, with universities retaining some discretion over who they accept. It is always worth checking with a university directly, about the procedure as it can vary across institutions (you can enquire directly through our site).

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About Author

Education in the Netherlands

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.