Dutch Universities Agree to Manage International Student Numbers

Netherlands Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Feb 14, 2024

youngsters in Amsterdam, Netherlands

14 Dutch universities, members of the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) have agreed to take their own measures to reduce the number of international students and increase the use of the Dutch language in academic instruction.

Universities agreed that major Bachelor’s programs such as economics or psychology should be offered in Dutch and highlighted the need to improve knowledge of the Dutch language and culture, Erudera.com reports.

As of now, no new English-taught Bachelor’s programs will be developed, and universities will identify which of the English-taught courses can be switched to Dutch.

“Internationalisation is very important for the Dutch universities and Dutch society, but it also brings about challenges and tensions. To preserve the added value of internationalisation, we want to tackle these challenges in earnest,” Jouke de Vries, acting president of UNL, said.

In a recent press release, UNL stressed the large number of international students adds pressure on the quality of education and accommodation, which is insufficient in some cities.

Universities said they will work on developing and implementing the measures in cooperation with the staff and student participation bodies.

The number of international students in the Netherlands has increased rapidly throughout the years, specifically in the past decade, from just under 54,000 in 2011 to nearly 123,000 in the 2022/23 academic year.

Due to the large numbers of international students, accounting for 15 percent of all student population in the Netherlands, the Dutch government presented plans to manage this influx last spring.

Minister of Education, Culture, and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf asked universities to expand and retain the use of the Dutch language.

“Left unchecked, the current numbers will lead to overcrowded lecture halls, excessive workloads for lecturers, a lack of student accommodation, and reduced access to study programmes,” Dijkgraaf said, adding he wants to prevent the quality of education from pressure so the Netherlands’ leading position globally is not undermined.

However, the Dutch Education Council recently said that the plan needs a rethink, particularly measures to promote the use of the Dutch language.

The body said that despite the plan being positive in terms of imposing a cap on international students per degree, meaning it aligns with the capacity, the language measures are challenging when it comes to providing supporting evidence, maintaining proportionality, and ensuring ease of execution.

Most international students in the Netherlands (90,000) during the 2022/23 academic year came from Germany. Data indicated that two-thirds enrolled at a university, with 43 percent pursuing a Bachelor’s degree.

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