Dutch Education Min. adjusting rules to limit influx of international students

THE HAGUE - Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf (Education) plans to adjust the rules so that fewer international students come to the Netherlands. He wants universities to limit the intake for English-language programs while at the same time leaving registrations open for the Dutch-language variants of those courses. Now that is still prohibited. 


The Minister expects to present his plans in March and, therefore, would not go into details during a parliamentary debate on the subject on Tuesday. 


Currently, universities are only allowed to put a student number limit on a course if they are temporarily overwhelmed by a high influx of students. That buys them time to ensure that they can handle the influx. Dijkgraaf is not considering a temporary, but a long-term measure to reduce the influx. So the rules need to be adjusted accordingly. 


Changing laws and regulations takes time, which is why the measures will not have an immediate effect, said Dijkgraaf. The Education Minister, therefore, also thinks that the Ministry should make agreements with universities and universities of applied sciences to limit the intake before the rules change. “As far as I’m concerned, we are now at our maximum.” 


At the end of last year, Dijkgraaf urged higher education institutions to stop actively recruiting students from abroad. According to the Minister, universities of applied sciences and universities are generally adhering well to this measure. 


The new rules are bad news for higher education institutions in border regions and provinces with an aging population. They depend on international students. Maastricht University and the University of Twente, therefore, want to be able to decide for themselves how many international students they admit. Dijkgraaf wants to make exceptions possible, but he also wants to ensure that they don’t happen too often. That is why he wants to limit the influx of international students centrally. He is still working out how exactly to do that. 


International students find it attractive to study in the Netherlands because it is affordable, the quality is generally good, and many courses are offered in English. That leads to full lecture halls, more competition for Dutch students for coveted places, and more shortages in the student housing market. 

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