Netherlands to Reduce English-Taught Courses, Considers Requiring Basic Dutch Language Skills for Int’l Students

Netherlands Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Jun 21, 2023


The Dutch government plans to reduce the number of courses offered in English at the country’s higher education institutions. That means international students choosing the Netherlands as their study abroad destination may be asked to learn the basic Dutch language.

Additionally, Dutch Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf said that most Bachelor’s degree courses will have two-thirds of the content offered in Dutch, reports.

“My starting point is that the language of education is Dutch. There can be room in the curriculum for another language, but I propose that it should not be more than a third.

That means that most of your education is in Dutch, but if you want to give a few specialist subjects in English, that is allowed,” Dijkgraaf said, adding that the existing legislation says “Dutch by default.”

The minister told MPS that he believes it is possible to pursue studies in Dutch, incorporating one-third of the curriculum in English. The education bill, expected to be published soon, takes effect in September next year. Nonetheless, it received both positive and negative feedback.

Recently, Erasmus University Rotterdam said that the potential implementation of such proposals would lead to implications for international students and staff at Dutch universities.

“We will do everything we can to influence the further development of the minister’s plans,” President of Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Executive Board, Ed Brinksma, said.

The number of international students in the Netherlands has continued to increase over the years. There were 115,000 international students in the country in the 2021/22 academic year, with over 42,000 students starting education at Dutch institutions for the first time.

The number went up to 122,287 students in the 2022/23 academic year, which is 15 percent of the student population in the country. In 2005/06, there were only 33,000 international students in the country.

Last year, the Netherlands reported a severe student housing shortage, in particular in the capital Amsterdam. The increase in international students and the significant student housing shortage led to several Dutch universities calling on international students not to head to the Netherlands unless they have found accommodation in advance.

The House of Representatives also appealed to universities to stop the active recruitment of international students, and a similar request was made directly from Minister Dijkgraaf, who has constantly highlighted the benefits that come with internationalization but also the difficulties such as high workload and challenges of finding accommodation.

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