Dutch universities want to limit number of international students
Universities are asking for "extra instruments" to limit the number of international students. Although they call international talent "essential," Pieter Duisenberg of the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) says that the growth in the number of registrations in some courses is too significant "to keep the quality of education high and make the workload manageable."
Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf (Education) says that he also believes that the influx of international students "should be manageable." He will discuss this with parliament on Wednesday. Dijkgraaf emphasized in his response that international students "can add value to Dutch education."
Figures published on Monday show that the total number of students at Dutch universities and colleges rose to a new record. 340,36 students are now enrolled at universities, 4 percent more than last year. At universities of applied sciences, the number of enrolled students grew by 0.4 percent to 492,519. The influx of new students is lower than in the 2020-2021 academic year, when an exceptionally large number of people started studying, partly due to the coronavirus crisis.
UNL sees not only advantages in the fact that the courses are so popular. "The government grant per student has been falling for decades, and the workload among employees continues to rise," it said. The number of international students rose to almost 800,000, over 13 percent more than a year earlier.
The universities would like to have the option of introducing a number limit on the English-taught track of specific programs. Or to introduce a maximum per study program for the number of students from outside the European Economic Area. That includes all EU countries, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland. An "emergency limit," a kind of emergency brake if the number of registrations increases too quickly, would also be helpful, according to UNL.
The universities of applied sciences mainly see that the intake has returned to the pre-coronavirus crisis level. "Corona had a major effect on the influx of students in higher professional education. That effect now seems to have worked itself out," said chairman Maurice Limmen of the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences. This academic year, 17 percent fewer HAVO students registered for a bachelor's degree program than in the previous academic year.
The decrease was much less in nursing courses. They attracted only 1.3 percent fewer students. This is positive for the sector, which has struggled with personnel shortages for years and has had difficult years due to corona.
The universities of applied sciences fear that some of the students will postpone their studies to take maximum advantage of a reintroduced basic grant. Limmen advises against that. "Society is desperate for well-educated people. In all sectors, we see a great shortage in the labor market, especially in healthcare, education, and technology."
Reporting by ANP.