NL: Ruling party wants curbs on int’l student numbers

Published 29/11/2022

Members of the majority party in the Netherlands parliament have told the country’s education minister that limits should be placed on the number of international students.

Hatte van der Woude, who represents VVD in the parliament, has called on education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf, who belongs to Democrats 66, to limit numbers, especially from countries outside the EU.

“The Minister first wants to think, like a kind of thoughtful professor, and make a vision for the future. I haven’t even seen a setup for that yet,” van der Woude told Dutch newspaper AD.

“And in the meantime, you see the universities filling up,” she added.

Van der Woude made it clear that growing international student numbers are contributing to the current student housing shortage in the country, as well as “packed lecture halls”.

“Dutch students are simply being outcompeted by international students,” she insisted.

In a debate on November 23 in parliament, she also stated that the Netherlands was “not prepared for the number of foreign students” entering the country and “urgent action” is now necessary.

The number of international students in Dutch universities has increased every single year since 2010 – including throughout the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

The issue has been ongoing since June, after Dijkgraaf decided to temporarily do away with a bill on the subject, which also reportedly disappointed universities.

A spokesperson for Universities of the Netherlands also said that while universities were “critical of the bill”, they still need “more tools to control the influx”.

“Dutch students are simply being outcompeted”

Van der Woude has now insisted that the government should at least “begin a pilot project” on limiting the numbers, from outside the EU specifically.

“It’s time for a bill,” said van der Woude.

She was not the only voice in parliament critical of Dijkgraaf, a Democrats 66 politician who belongs to a coalition government under a representative democracy model. The country’s Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, also belongs to VVD.

“Faster and firm action must be taken,” said Harry van der Molen, who represents the Christian Democratic Appeal party.

Some 40% of first year students in the Netherlands are international students.

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