Measures to ‘manage’ international students early next year: minister

Signs in two languages at the University of Twente. Photo:

Education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf has told MPs that he will come up with proposals to ‘manage’ international student numbers early next year, after putting the previous government’s plans on ice.

The measures will include ‘language and the possible introduction of fixed numbers’ for non-Dutch courses’, Dijkgraaf said. ‘The availability of higher education for Dutch students is, and will remain, an important principle,’ he said.

Earlier this week MPs from the ruling VVD and CDA called on Dijkgraaf to do more to limit the number of international students coming to the Netherlands. ‘There is no need for German students to study psychology in English at a Dutch university,’ CDA MP Harry van der Molen said during the debate.

This summer, a number of universities called on foreign students not to come unless they had organised accommodation in advance. MPs are also concerned about overflowing lecture theatres and the lack of room in labs.

Some 85,500 international students are currently studying at one of the Netherlands’ 14 universities and 72% of them come from Europe, according to figures published by the Dutch universities association last month.

The total is an increase of 7.2% on the previous academic year, but well down on growth in previous years, which has ranged from 12% to 15%.

The Dutch universities association has campaigned since 2018 for new rules to allow them to manage the flow of international students and the impact on course quality.

Amsterdam University has already introduced a cap on the number of psychology student places – 260 in Dutch and 340 in English – even though this has not yet been officially sanctioned.

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