Most foreign students who attend Dutch universities leave as soon as they have their degrees and do not contribute to the local economy, the Volkskrant reports on Friday.
The claim is made by Sander van den Eijnden, head of Nuffic, the organisation which stimulates the internationalisation of higher education in the Netherlands.
Van den Eijden tells the paper better integration of foreign students would bring advantages for the Dutch economy by encouraging more to stay.
‘Our strong point is our English language abilities, that is why they come here,’ Van den Eijden is quoted as saying. ‘But it is also our weakness because foreign students are on the edge of society because they do nothing in Dutch.’
Later on Friday, the cabinet publishes new figures looking at the cost and benefits of encouraging so many foreign students to come to the Netherlands.
The paper says that even though the EU pays €6,000 a year towards the bill for each foreign students, they still cost the Dutch taxpayer €108m a year. Far more foreign students come to the Netherlands than Dutch students study abroad.
This is partly due to the low fees – around €1,700 for EU nationals – which make it much cheaper for students to take a degree in the Netherlands than, say, England. Some universities, such as Maastricht, advertise heavily abroad.
According to figures published by Nuffic in August, the number of foreign students in the Netherlands rose from 7% to 10% of the total over the past five years. There are now around 82,000 foreign students at Dutch universities and colleges.
They come from 61 different countries. Germany tops the list with 46%, followed by China and Belgium.
The Volkskrant says the government is considering several options to restore the balance and says junior education minister Halbe Zijlstra has already raised the issue with his EU colleagues.
One idea could be to stop universities and hbo colleges actively recruiting students abroad, the paper said.
Earlier this month, Zijlstra said in parliament that universities should only teach in English if it is necessary.
Universities, colleges should avoid teaching in English
Foreign students take up too many student rooms
Labour inspectors keep a close eye on foreign students with jobs