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The basics
THE Netherlands: Applying to University - Must read

What is ‘Numerus Fixus’?

Find out what Numerus Fixus means, and how this could affect you if your plan is to study a course in the Netherlands.

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What does Numerus Fixus mean?

For the Latin aficionados out there, the term translates simply as ‘fixed number’.


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 but there have been some major changes to this process in recent years.


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. Courses with limited places include psychology, medicine, international business, economics and physiotherapy. This is now known as either Numerus Fixus, Decentralized Selection or Limited Enrolment.


How does Numerus Fixus work?

This process was typically run by the government using a lottery system.


However, the process has changed. Now, whenever there is a restriction on student numbers, universities can pick the students they want based on their qualifications and overall application. So, what does this really mean? Students who were previously able to enroll on a limited course with modest grades are now less likely to be accepted. This change does mean however that students applying to Dutch universities can apply for two courses instead of just one, which was previously the case.  


As university and course application procedures differ so widely, there is no one rule about how to apply for a course in the Netherlands. If you are applying for a subject with limited spaces, you may have an earlier application deadline of around the 15th January.  


You could also be required to attend an assessment day if your course is Numerus Fixus. Applicants who achieve the necessary marks will be made an offer on Studielink (the online application platform for prospective students in the Netherlands). This offer must then be accepted or declined within 2 weeks. If you don't make the top grades, you might still make it onto the reserved list.