Dutch Education Minister to Present Plan to Reduce Number of Int’l Students in Netherlands

The Hague, Netherlands

The Netherlands’ Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf, said he is planning to present a new plan for international student influx in the Netherlands in March, so fewer international students enroll at Dutch universities.

According to local media reports, during a parliamentary debate last week, the Minister said he wants to reduce the number of students enrolling in English-language programs and, at the same time, allow registrations for the same programs provided in Dutch.

Dijkgraaf said he is considering a long-term plan to reduce the flow of international students in the country and not only a temporary measure; however, he added that law takes time to change; therefore, new rules will not come into effect immediately,

“As far as I’m concerned, we are now at our maximum,” Dijkgraaf was quoted as saying by NL Times, pointing out that the Ministry of Education should discuss with higher education institutions on the topic before making adjustments.

The same reports that universities in the Netherlands currently can lower the number of students in a particular course if the demand is high.

In December 2021, Dijkgraaf wrote to universities urging them to stop actively recruiting international students saying that the influx of students is putting pressure on teaching staff and causing difficulties in finding accommodation.

“In addition, in the long term it could threaten the continuity, affordability and quality of the Dutch higher education system,” Dijkgraaf said in his letter to universities.

The House of Representatives of the Netherlands made a similar request in December due to the shortage of accommodation. Back then, Minister Dijkgraaf said he would present a plan to address the issue in February 2023. Members of the Parliament argued the issue needs to be solved faster and new rules should be introduced before February.

Despite accommodation challenges, the Netherlands has remained a popular study destination for overseas students, and Dutch universities have continued to be active in international student recruitment.

According to Statistics Netherlands, 115,000 international students enrolled in the Netherlands in the 2021/22 academic year, with more than 42,000 studying in the country for the first time. An annual report from international education agency Nuffic highlighted that Germany was the top source country of international students in the Netherlands, followed by Italy, Romania, and China, whereas Polish students increased by 47 percent compared to 2020/21.

On the other hand, the same report said that the number of international students from the UK decreased mainly due to the latter’s withdrawal from the European Union and the increase in study fees.

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Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf has sent a letter to universities in the country, asking them to stop enrolling more international students, local media reported.