Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf wants to slow down the arrival of international students in the Netherlands. Their numbers have increased sharply in recent years, leading to all kinds of problems. The Minister for Higher Education is now coming up with a series of proposals. For example, he thinks that more lessons should be taught in Dutch.
There are now 115,000 international students in the Netherlands, Dijkgraaf writes in a letter to the House of Representatives. That is 3.5 times as many as in 2005. At the universities, 40 percent of first-year students now come from abroad, compared to 28 percent in 2015.
The Minister of Education, Culture and Science thinks it is good that the Netherlands attracts many foreign students. Not only for themselves “but also for our society and knowledge economy”. But he wants to be able to control the flow. “In addition to an accelerator pedal, we also need a brake and especially a steering wheel,” writes the minister, who believes that there is now too little control. “We don’t have enough control over it.”
Overcrowded lecture halls
Dijkgraaf points out that lecture halls are now overcrowded, a lack of accommodation and a high workload among lecturers, and that the accessibility of education for Dutch students is at stake. He fears that if no action is taken, the quality of colleges and universities will deteriorate to such an extent “that this will undermine our international top position”.
First of all, he wants central management, with a broader view than just what a university of applied sciences or university can do with it. “What can society and the system cope with? How do we ensure that undesirable developments are signaled in good time?” are questions that must be asked, and the Minister of Education must have the last word here.
In addition, Dijkgraaf wants institutions to be able to set a maximum number of places for foreign students more easily, so that Dutch students also continue to have access. He talks about an “emergency capacity fixus”, which can be used in the event of an unexpectedly large number of applications from students from outside Europe.
Dijkgraaf also wants Dutch to become the main language in education again. That is already the case on paper, but there is no supervision and in practice more and more lessons are given in English. Dijkgraaf wants international students to start learning Dutch again. This also increases the chance that they will stay in the Netherlands after their studies.
The measures proposed by Dijkgraaf will not take effect immediately. The minister is still working on further plans and legislation, which he would like to send to the House of Representatives before the summer. He also wants to consult with colleges and universities before the summer about his earlier call to stop actively recruiting foreign students for the time being.
NOS op 3 previously made this video about the large number of international students:
- Will the Netherlands soon show foreign students the door? “There is no quick brake”
- Cabinet: stop recruiting foreign students
- Universities under pressure due to record number of students