Dutch education minister suggests limiting university internationalization

In a letter sent to the Chamber on Friday, Dutch education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven proposes limiting internationalism in higher education in part through a greater use of Dutch language and higher fees for incoming non EU students.

The minister cites a rapid increase of fully English language-taught bachelor’s programs in the Netherlands, paired with a reported 30% increase in the number of international students enrolling in Dutch universities between 2013 and 2018.

Van Engelshoven suggests mandating a greater effort from Dutch universities to foster Dutch language proficiency from both local and foreign students. Additionally, the government may tighten regulations allowing the use of English language instruction, impose higher minimum tuition fees for students from outside the European Economic Area, and reduce international outreach spending for higher education.

The education minister suggests these regulations for foreign students despite a Central Planning Bureau report released Thursday which forwards that foreign and especially non EU students boost the Dutch economy more than they burden it. This is because the government does not contribute to their study costs and according to CPB, foreign students find jobs more often and work more on average than European and Dutch students entering the job market. According to CPB, internationalization also benefits Dutch students by broadening the selection of courses to choose from, forcing educational institutions to be more competitive, and by providing intercultural experiences for Dutch students prior to their entrance into the job market.

While the Dutch economy benefits from internationalization, minister Van Engelshoven worries rapid international growth within the higher education system may exhaust resources such as professors, study materials, and physical spaces for learning. Further, international students apply pressure to the ongoing housing market crisis.


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