Dutch Education Council Suggests Govt to Reconsider Plans to Reduce Int’l Student Numbers

Netherlands Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Feb 07, 2024


The Education Council of the Netherlands said that the government should reconsider its plans to reduce the number of international students at Dutch universities.

The council said the government needs to especially review the measures to reduce the use of English language at Dutch education institutions, Erudera News reports.

Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf sought advice from the council on the proposal before the latter made these recommendations.

According to the advisory board, although the plans to reduce the number of international students in the Netherlands are positive, changing the language of instruction in higher education is challenging.

“What will the impact be on the quality of education and research? And what will be the impact on small institutions, hbo colleges and specialized universities, and those in the border areas?” the council said.

Dijkgraaf reacted to these recommendations, saying he would review the new legislation carefully and as soon as possible.

International student enrollment at Dutch higher education institutions has sharply increased over the recent years, especially in the last decade. However, the number stabilized last year, and no further increase was recorded.

The number of international students at Dutch universities increased from 14,255 in 2021 to 101,831 in 2020 and 92,159 in 2019. In the 2022/23 academic year, there were 123,000 international students at Dutch higher education institutions, accounting for 15 percent of all students there.

Most of these students hailed from Europe (93,410) in 2022/23, followed by 21,130 from Asia, a total of 5,260 from the Americas, some 2,230 students from Africa, and 160 from countries in Oceania.

Last April, the Ministry of Education presented a new bill to improve management of international student numbers in the Netherlands following concerns that an education system in English meant Dutch talent was neglected.

The government proposed limiting the number of students from outside the European Economic Area and teaching two-thirds of the content for standard bachelor’s degrees in Dutch.

Dijkgraaf said back then that the international student numbers should be checked to avoid overcrowded classrooms, high workloads of lecturers, and the lack of student housing. He said in the last academic year, 40 percent of new students were international students compared to 28 percent in 2015.

“There are high-growth technology sectors that are desperate for new international talent. But it should also be possible to manage the number of students arriving here, where necessary,” Dijkgraaf said.

In 2022, 77 percent of master's degree programs were taught in English, 14 percent in Dutch, and 9 percent in both languages. For bachelor’s, the share stood at 28 percent in English, 53 percent in Dutch, and 19 percent in both languages.

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