Wednesday 22 March 2023

VVD calls for action to cap international student numbers

The library at Delft University. Photo:

MPs from the right wing liberal VVD have called on education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf to do more to limit the number of international students coming to the Netherlands.

Earlier this year Dijkgraaf put legislation which would have allowed universities and colleges to place limits on foreign students on ice, pending a review. But VVD MP Hatte van der Woude has told the AD she is concerned that not enough is being done.

‘The minister first wants to have a think about it, like a thoughtful professor, and then draw up a vision for the future,’ she said. ‘I have not even seen a draft. And in the meantime, the universities are filling up again.’

This year a number of universities called on foreign students not to come unless they had organized accommodation in advance. Van der Woude said she is also concerned about overflowing lecture theatres and the lack of room in labs.

Some degree courses with a fixed number of students are full of internationals and ‘Dutch students are being driven out by them, the MP said. She plans to ask Dijkgraaf to explain what he is doing to reduce numbers during Wednesday’s debate on the education ministry budget.


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.

The UvN told Dutch News that universities are willing to impose caps on several courses which are popular with foreign students, in an effort to limit numbers.

This will be done either by imposing limits on the number of students who can sign up, or limits on the number of non-Dutch courses in subjects such as psychology, management and politics, the UvN said.

This academic year, 340,000 students were taking a bachelor or master’s university degree course in the Netherlands.

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