Home Travel & Adventure Dutch Universities Trim English Courses to Curb Influx of International Students

Dutch Universities Trim English Courses to Curb Influx of International Students


A total of 14 universities in the Netherlands have agreed to increase the Dutch language skills of students and employees in an effort to reduce the number of international students in the country.

According to NL Times, the universities do not plan to develop any English-language programs soon and even switch some entirely to Dutch.

Recruiting international workers is no longer encouraged, although the institutions make an exception for sectors with severe labour market shortages.

Jouke de Vries, the chairman of the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL), says that the association is committed to working seriously on solving any issues regarding the new measure and pointed out that in the past, they should have paid more attention to using Dutch instead of English.

On the one hand, we stand for internationalisation, but we also see that social and political questions are being raised about the model we had. 

Jouke de Vries, Universities of the Netherlands (UNL)

Educational institutions in the country were promoting the destination in order to attract international students, but, in recent years, this has resulted in some disadvantages. Two of the main issues are the housing shortage for students and the accessibility of courses for local students, which can be impacted by the large number of students registering at Dutch universities.

Based on the most recent data, there’s a slight decrease in the influx of international students from overseas. In that case, De Vries claimed ‘the issue is resolving on its own,’ but that does not suffice as universities seek additional measures.

A top priority for universities is implementing a maximum cap on the number of students for English-language programs. This proposal is included in a bill currently being developed by Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf. UNL considers this measure “crucial” for managing the influx.

According to CBS Statistics Netherlands, one in four students enrolling in Dutch universities in 2022 were studying in the country for the first time, totalling 42,000 students, while 115,000 international students were admitted.

More than three-fours (76 per cent) of international students came from Europe, with Germany being the main country of origin (24,500), despite the fact that the numbers of these students have been plummeting.

However, the share of students coming from other European countries has risen. In the 2021/2022 academic year, 19,000 students came from Asia, many of them from China and India, which totalled more than 8,000 students.

Courses in law, administration, trade, and business services were the most sought-after among Dutch students, both in higher vocational and university education. Similarly, international students predominantly opted for these courses.

Additionally, international students showed interest in courses related to design, art, and languages. Among international university students, journalism and behavioural and social sciences programs were demanded the most.

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