Just months after calling on the government not to limit international students, the University of Groningen has now agreed with plans to limit its internationalisation. The RUG is stopping the creation of new Bachelor courses in English and will start exploring which courses taught in English can be switched entirely to Dutch.
Fourteen universities, including the University of Groningen (RUG), have agreed on steps to reduce the influx of internationals coming to study in the Netherlands, according to RTV Noord. Along with the previously mentioned measures, actively recruiting students at international fairs is also no longer an option – although universities may make exceptions for sectors experiencing labour market shortages.
The RUG appears to be forging ahead with its plans to reduce the international talent heading to the North of the Netherlands at a time when local companies are finding that the main challenge they are facing is not finding enough skilled workers to fill their open positions.
These labour shortages have not only been apparent to companies. The province of Groningen had even set up marketing campaigns in an attempt to ‘recall’ young talent back to the city where they studied – Groningen.
Change of heart
Last November, the RUG added its name to an opinion piece published in the Volkskrant that called on the Dutch government not to limit the number of international students too much. The opinion piece, signed also by four other universities, stated that “international talents are indispensable and the Netherlands cannot afford to make technical bachelor’s programs fully or largely Dutch-language again.”
Today, the chairperson of the board of the RUG seems to be singing from a different hymn sheet, cited by RTV Noord saying that while “they stand for internationalisation” they “also see that social and political questions are being raised” about their model.
In a separate opinion piece published in January, a group of academics from the Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences Psychology at the University of Groningen jumped to the defence of internationals.
“Introducing Dutch as the working language and thus limiting internationalisation may suit the current political climate, but will ultimately impoverish Dutch science and harm society,” they wrote in the Volkskrant.
Other reasons the universities give for their new stance on internationalisation are the housing shortage and lack of access to higher education for Dutch students.
They propose introducing numerus fixus (also known as numerus clausus) regulations that cap the number of students allowed to enrol in English-taught programmes.