Many UT staff and students may have followed with great interest the debate on internationalisation in higher education between the Dutch Parliament’s Education, Culture and Science Committee and the Minister on Thursday 15 June, or read about it in UToday and the national media. As we indicated in previous messages, it is an important topic for us as a university: both because of the highly valued international staff and students in our community and the value we place on internationalisation for education, research and knowledge transfer.
The debate showed that there is consideration for various concerns that UT, together with other universities, has put forward. These include (1) the added value of internationalisation of higher education for the Netherlands, (2) the tight labour market in the IT and science & technology domains and (3) the unique position of universities in border regions. These are situations that call for a tailor-made approach. The minister indicated he would like to create sharp definitions for any exceptions. During the debate, it became clear that the Parliament only wants to leave limited room for exceptions. This is worrying for us as a UT community. As we said earlier: it comes down to the details.
Further elaboration will take place in administrative agreements between the minister and higher education institutions and in new legislation. The minister indicated that he considers it important to guarantee the accessibility of higher education for Dutch students and to ensure that the Dutch language is given a more prominent place in higher education.
Talks with higher education institutions to reach administrative agreements will continue in the coming period. The UT is closely involved in these discussions, constantly emphasising the importance of international talent for Dutch society. Of course, we are thinking about, and collaborating on, ways to contribute to a good balance between internationalisation and accessibility and the ways in which both elements can reinforce each other.
In the debate, Minister Dijkgraaf indicated his intention to introduce a bill in the near future containing the legal instruments to steer internationalisation in the right direction. The intention is to have this bill ready in draft form by mid-July, after which stakeholders will have time to submit their views. These instruments can then be deployed from the 2025-2026 academic year.
In the coming period, we will not only continue to focus on this issue in the administrative consultations, but also ensure that we work within the university on a sound approach to new instruments. We will do this in close consultation with those involved within the faculties and service departments. In the meantime, we will continue to keep you informed with notifications like this one in case of any new developments. Of course, you can always contact your supervisor or study advisor if you have any questions.