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Posted by : Shreya Bhattacharya

Author Designation : Senior Counselor

Netherlands to impose curbs on international students

Navigating the Changes: Understanding Netherlands' New Regulations for International Students:

In a strategic move to address concerns related to the surge in foreign students, fourteen Dutch universities have collectively agreed to take measures aimed at limiting the influx of international students and enhancing proficiency in the Dutch language among both students and staff. The decision was reported by the National News Agency of the Netherlands (ANP).

According to the government of the Netherlands, more than 25% of students in higher educational institutions are international. Nearly 45% of them come to the Netherlands to complete their bachelor's degree programme. This, the government says, will put Dutch students’ accessibility to certain English-taught programmes at risk.

The universities, as per UNL, will start offering more Dutch-taught degree programmes and all the major bachelor’s degree programmes will be taught in the Dutch language. The process to convert English-taught bachelor degree programmes to Dutch is underway, the UNL said.

As part of these measures, there will be a pause in the development of new bachelor's programs in English. Universities will conduct assessments to identify existing courses offered in English that can be fully translated into Dutch. Master's programs offered in English will remain unaffected by these changes. The active recruitment of personnel through international fairs will not be actively encouraged, except in sectors facing significant labor shortages.

A significant step in this direction is the agreement among universities that core bachelor's programs in key fields, such as economics and psychology, should be primarily taught in Dutch. This move aims to strike a balance between internationalization and ensuring that essential programs are accessible in the native language.

International students add significant value to the Dutch economy, as per the Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy (CPB). The net contribution from a European student is almost 17,000 Euros, and that from a student coming from outside the European economic area is 96,000 Euros, the UNL said.

But universities also say that a larger number of international students are putting pressure on the quality of education. Many of the cities in the Netherlands are also facing issues with insufficient student accommodation.

In order to check the inflow of international students, universities in the Netherlands will be taking steps to ensure that “tertiary education remains accessible to all citizens of the Netherlands”. Ruben Puylaert, spokesperson of Universiteit van Nederland (UNL) – a top body of 14 universities in the country – said: “With immediate effect, the Dutch universities will be taking their own measures to manage the influx of international students and improve Dutch language skills.”

This development follows a request from the Netherlands ministry of education, culture and science. On December 21 last year, Robbert Dijkgraaf, the minister for education, had asked UNL and the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) to work on reducing the influx of international students and improving Dutch language skills. Talking about the importance of international students, Dijkgraaf emphasised on the requirement of balanced accessibility keeping in mind what society and institutions can handle.

“I plan to use a joint and well-considered approach in order to strike a balance. My goal is to maintain the intrinsic value of internationalization. This requires balance through accessibility and by considering what society and the institutions can handle. It is very important that tertiary education is and will remain accessible to all citizens of the Netherlands. So we have to take action now. The legislative proposal is intended to allow for thorough, focused and speedy intervention,” said Dijkgraaf.