Dutch education minister will intervene if too many foreign students arrive

April 21, 2023  -Cabinet Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf said he will personally intervene if too many foreign students intend to study in the Netherlands. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science said his plan is to determine at a national level the desirable number of foreign students, but he also placed the responsibility primarily with colleges and universities. Dijkgraaf said he only wants to take action if they fail, and that he is not yet sure how he would intervene. He does want to give educational institutions more options to limit the influx, and added that urging students to learn Dutch is an option.

It should be possible to only admit a maximum number of students to the English-taught variant of a degree program, Dijkgraaf argued on Friday. In that case, the provision that there is no fixed limit to the number of students allowed to enter a program would only apply to those taught in Dutch.

Currently this is not possible, making it difficult for universities and colleges to stop the influx of only foreign students. If English-taught programs are given a capacity limit, and they threaten to become full, Dijkgraaf wants to be able to give priority to students from the Netherlands and other European countries.

The minister believes that national politicians should consider how many international students can be accommodated both in “society and the system.” He also said he wants to take into account the “demand for talent” and the growth strategies in the Netherlands.

“What I fear is that the high quality of the Dutch system will come under such pressure” that the ship’s course will take a completely different turn before the Cabinet can step in, Dijkgraaf said. “Uninhibited, it will lead to overcrowded lecture halls, high workload for lecturers and a lack of housing, and it puts pressure on the accessibility of study programs.”

International students are desperately needed for some studies in growth sectors such as ICT and technology and for professions suffering from staff shortages. Dijkgraaf said he wants it to continue to be possible to provide tailor-made solutions for these studies. He also wants to take into account the specific needs of different regions, such as colleges and universities close to the German and Belgian borders.

Dutch should remain the main language in higher education, said Dijkgraaf. He is therefore going to tighten the conditions to deviate away from this. He argued it is better to ensure that education institutions do not ​​unnecessarily choose English as the language of instruction.

The minister also wants to encourage international students to learn Dutch.

The ISO, an organization of students in various cities in the Netherlands, said it is high time for such measures. However, the chair emphasized that these measures should be backed by commitments from the Cabinet.

Reporting by ANP

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