Letter: Controlling international students influx in higher education

Geen categorie - Friday 28 April 2023

A letter on ‘Controlling the influx of International students’ was published on the 21st of April. The letter highlights the positives and negatives of internationalisation and mentions some points of action to control internationalisation within the Dutch Higher Educational system.

The situation  

Each year, more and more international students come to the Netherlands. The current ‘unlimited internationalisation’ system within the Netherlands puts a lot of pressure on the quality of education, the housing market, and the accessibility of education for Dutch students. This whilst internationalisation can bring a lot of value – from students’ personal development, to gaining intercultural competencies, to expanding students’ worldviews – if implemented correctly. Regarding the quality and research of education, internationalisation can also bring Higher Educational Institutions themselves tons of value. Furthermore, making a broader perspective and zooming out to the societal level, internationalisation is known for its potential to boost the economy and the collective knowledge within a country. In the long term, the economic benefits of internationalisation weigh out against the economic costs, and these benefits increase even further when internationals stay in the Netherlands after their studies and contribute to income taxes


The current internationalisation system within the Netherlands does more harm than good. The minister wants to put specific focus on some elements to improve the internationalisation system and outweigh the advantages against the disadvantages. What follows is a summary of the Minister’s most recent plans:

  • Funding: the Minister wants to analyse how the current funding of Higher Educational Institutions incline these institutions to attract more and more international students, and come with measures to decrease this inclination.
  • Centralized Supervision: the Minister wants to implement a government agency that monitors the influx of international students .
  • Recruitment and accessibility: the Minister wants to discriminate between EER students (international students from Europe) and non-EER students (international students from outside of Europe), and put a so called ‘capacity fixus’ on non-EER students to ‘stabilize’ the influx of internationals.
  • Language: the Minister wants to prioritize the Dutch language in the Higher Educational environment. International students shall be demanded to follow Dutch language courses.
  • Making better use of the pro’s of internationalization: the Minister wants to further develop ways to offer students an international experience, for example by improving degree mobility.

The views of the LSVb

  • The so called ‘capacity fixus’ mentioned in the letter (max. number of places for internationals) is meant for all international students, but seems to especially target non-EER students. In practice, the consequence will be that relatively more non-EER students shall be excluded from the Dutch Higher Educational system. What the LSVb thinks of this? Students shouldn’t be excluded because of the fact that they are non-European. A student = a student.
  • It is yet unclear what the plans of the Minister will do to the funding of the Dutch Higher Education and how this is supposed to help in better controlling the influx of international students. A more detailed action plan is therefore necessary before any implementation takes place.
  • According to the letter, the government is going to centralize the supervision on internationalisation trends within the Dutch Higher Educational system. This will probably be linked to the accreditation system (measures to ensure educational programmes are in line with the quality standards set by the government). Whether this is an effective way to monitor the influx of international students, remains a question. So again, more in-dept research on the consequences is necessary.
  • Even though the Dutch language should be strengthened, it is important that the Dutch and English language can exist simultaneously within the Dutch Educational system, with room for customization.