Saturday 13 August 2022

Universities should be able to limit non-EU student numbers: VVD MP

Part of the university. Photo: Vysotsky via Wikimedia Commons

Universities and hbo colleges should be able to set limits on the number of students they attract from outside the EU, to maintain standards and stop Dutch students being squeezed out, according to VVD parliamentarian Dennis Wiersma.

Over 11% of the student body in the Netherlands comes from abroad, and around quarter of foreign students are from outside the EU, according to figures from international education group Nuffic.

The Netherlands’ attractiveness as a place to study has advantages and disadvantages, Wiersma told the Parool. ‘The quality is going down. Lecture theatres are full, some courses have to limit student numbers and Dutch students are being squeezed out,’ he told the paper.

Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said in September she wanted to reduce the growth in the numbers of foreign students at Dutch universities and hbo colleges.

And last year, Dutch universities published a document calling for the number of courses given in English to be capped in an attempt to contain the growing number of international students.

The minister also plans to bring in minimum fees for students from outside the European Economic Area, to make sure that they do not adversely impact university financing, and to encourage foreign students to learn Dutch.

However Wiersma says the focus should be on ensuring foreign students study subjects which would be useful to the Netherlands if they decide to stay. Priority, he said, should go to students taking technical subjects. ‘There are already too many people studying psychology,’ he said. ‘And we don’t need them.’

In July the government announced that it was reorganising Nuffic, the organisation set up to promote the internationalisation of the education system. The measures include cutting its budget and closing the 10 education support offices, located in countries as diverse as China, Russia, India and Turkey.

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