Internationalization issues

The internationalization of courses at Dutch universities has increased over the past years. Whilst the motives and benefits are clear, lately a debate has arisen within the Dutch government about this particular subject.

The percentage of international students studying in the Netherlands has more than doubled in the past ten years. In general, universities always see the great benefits of internationalization and try hard to attract international students to their courses. However, with the growth in numbers of these students becoming increasingly strong, the question arises within the Dutch government about the limits of internationalization.

Door Leonie Andriessen, 31 mei 2018

While looking at this issue, a distinction can be made between students from countries that are in the European Union, and students that are from other countries. A Dutch student pays around 2000 Euro per year to the university, the governments adds to this sum of money with around 15000 Euro per student. International students from the EU enjoy this same arrangement due to an agreement made within the EU. Students outside of the EU pay the full price which can lead up to 32000 Euro per year. The EU students make up three quarters of the international students, and they cost the most money out of the two types.

Because there has been such an increase in students for which the government has to provide extra money, they have decreased the amount of money that they give to each student. It used to be 20000 Euro and now it is 15000 Euro. In the long run, this has an effect on the quality of education that is received by these students. Less money is provided to spend on the course and its staff. This impacts the educational experience of the students within the course.

Leonie international students 1Victor van der Chijs, the board's chairman of Twente University, experiences increasing numbers of particularly technical students © Flickr

Slanted Distribution
Whilst the number of international students coming to the Netherlands increases rapidly, this is not the case for Dutch students that are studying abroad. Therefore, the distribution of international students is slanted. If more Dutch students would venture out and study abroad, in an EU country, their costs would be covered by another government and they would not cost any money to the Dutch government.

A quick solution to the problem would be to put a ‘numerus fixus’ on more international studies. This limits the amount of people that can get in to the course and is sometimes paired with taking tests, sending in your grades from high school or writing motivational letters about why you would want to participate in the course. This solution decreases the number of students in international courses.

Leonie international students 2Dutch students are promoted to study abroad in Europe © Flickr

There is also another way of looking at a solution: increasing the number of Dutch students studying abroad. Promoting studying abroad even more to Dutch students is this type of solution. This would have to make a change over timet it might take a while. Studying abroad is an incredible experience that broadens your horizon in many different ways. Therefore it should be promoted to a group that could do more of it instead of stopping another group from experiencing it.  

Wat kost een internationale students (en met hoeveel zijn ze?) – 14 mei 2018 –

Universiteiten willen nog maar beperkt aantal plaatsen voor buitenlandse studenten – 14 mei 2018 –

Universiteiten willen groei buitenlandse studenten kunnen beperken – 11 mei 2018 –

Schiet de internationalisering van Nederlandse universiteiten door? – 4 september 2017 –



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Bijzonder Hoogleraar Kiezersonderzoek Universiteit Leiden
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