Dutch universities and colleges have been told by education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf (D66) that they should stop recruiting students because of concerns around housing, shortage of study facilities, and the growing workload for academic staff.
The minister sent a three-page letter to the presidents of higher education institutions as part of of the ongoing talks between the education ministry and the umbrella organisations – the Universities of the Netherlands and the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences – regarding the sector’s international recruitment strategies.
Dijkgraaf said he would welcome a moratorium in which schools stopped recruiting new international students, except for the sectors where there is a shortage of trained specialists and in regions where populations are on the decline.
Concerns cited were around whether the schools are able to manage the well-being of new students who enter the country and whether necessary standards of education provision will be in place.
Specifically, the minister questioned if universities will be able to ensure appropriate accommodation for new arrivals – the fear being that students might need to rely on the state for help if adequate accommodation was not available.
Despite the problems outlined in Dijkgraaf’s letter, Dutch universities are still very popular among foreign students. On average, internationals constitute two-fifths of all first-year students studying at universities in the Netherlands, according to the CBS statistics bureau.
“In the 2021/’22 academic year, 115 thousand international students were enrolled in higher education. This is 3.5 times as many as in 2005/’06, when the number stood at 33 thousand,” the agency said.
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