Monday 23 May 2022

Dutch universities call again for international student limits

A meeting for international students in Leiden. Photo: Brandon Hartley

Dutch universities have again called on the government to give them the option of limiting the number of foreign students attending some courses.

Foreign students now account for 80,000 of the 340,000 students currently registered at one of the country’s 13 universities and that is putting too much pressure on the institutions, the Dutch university association UvN says.

Universities have been campaigning since 2018 for measures to better manage foreign student numbers, which rose 14% in the current academic year. And while total student numbers are increasing, financing is not going up sufficiently to cope with demand, the universities say.

‘International talent is essential’ for both research and industry but the increase in the number of foreign students is currently too great to maintain the high quality of courses and is putting too much pressure on staff, chairman Pieter Duisenberg said.

The organisation suggests three measures to reduce the flow of international students: introducing a limit on student numbers in English language courses, limiting the number of non-EU students per course and an emergency brake so that numbers can be capped if applications rise too hard and threaten course quality.

MPs are due to debate university funding and the internationalisation of the Dutch higher education on Wednesday.

Some 73% of foreign students currently at a Dutch university come from within the European Economic Area, mainly from Germany. China accounts for the biggest group of non-EU students.

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