"Besides an accelerator, we also need a brake, but above all a steering wheel," was how Minister Dijkgraaf described the control of international student numbers in higher education in a letter to the Dutch parliament. Last Friday, the minister set out his intentions around the internationalisation of higher education in a 26-page letter.
The letter contains several initiatives and solution directions to get a better grip on the international student influx. The minister will immediately start working on a bill, giving universities the legal possibility to better control the intake of international students at the programme level by the academic year 2025-2026. In addition, the minister and the universities will discuss increasing the likelihood of international students staying in the Netherlands after graduation. Mastering the Dutch language may contribute to this. Furthermore, providing information to international students, such as about housing, is also a topic of discussion. A brief explanation of the intentions can be found in the news release from Universities of the Netherlands and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science's press release about the letter.
It isn't easy to make already a comprehensive assessment of how the proposals will affect the University of Twente. Moreover, the minister's letter is still under discussion with the Dutch parliament. An initial debate on it is scheduled for Thursday, 15 June.
UT's Executive Board certainly sees opportunities in the proposed direction for UT further to embed internationalisation within its mission as a university. It explicitly addresses the issues to which we have drawn attention, such as the needs of universities in border regions and the contribution we want to make to problems in the (regional) labour market, especially in ICT and engineering.
At the same time, points are also proposed for which a more detailed elaboration is needed to form a proper opinion. For instance, the minister suggests that courses taught in a language other than Dutch may have to include Dutch in some form, but it is not yet possible to indicate precisely how this will work in practice. The same applies to the required Dutch language proficiency for English-speaking teaching staff employed by the university. The exact elaboration is of great importance for the quality of education, for instance for an effective 'international classroom'.
In discussion with the minister and other universities, we will work with them in the coming months to sharpen up supported agreements and effective legal instruments. In the meantime, with various internal stakeholders, we continue to think through various scenarios to be well-prepared for possible follow-up steps.