Higher Costs and Fewer Spots: Parliament Receives Advice on Curbing International Students at Public Universities

Higher Costs and Fewer Spots: Parliament Receives Advice on Curbing International Students at Public Universities
Wittenborg representatives along with colleagues at ICEF Berlin, 2022.

A less attractive higher education system

At the end of December 2022, the Dutch government received advice from the Migration Advisory Council on how to curb the flow of international students arriving in the Netherlands at public universities. Proposals included demanding more Dutch programmes, raising tuition fees, introducing a numerus fixus for English-language programmes, ceasing overseas recruitment and making higher education in the Netherlands less attractive overall. The news could be beneficial for privately-owned institutions such as Wittenborg, who will be unaffected by such changes. In the future, schools may also be asked to recruit only in proportion to the available student housing in a given city. According to the Migration Advisory Council, the number of foreign students has increased to 40,000 per year, in a country with a population of 17.8 million residents. Most come from within the EU, with Germany being the top country for international students. The Dutch cabinet is particularly looking to limit the number of non-EU/EEA students.

Currently, the government has few options for limiting non-EU/EEA students at public institutions, as guidelines in the EU require a member state to issue a residence permit to non-EU/EEA students if they have been admitted to higher education. As such, setting a quota on residents awarded for the purpose of study would be in contention with EU standards. In any case, more than 50% of study and labour migrants leave the country within three years. A calculated 87% of study migrants leave after ten years, according to the Migration Advisory Council.

According to the Dutch cabinet, this influx of students compounds challenges to providing affordable housing to current residents, particularly in major cities. There is little talk of how a cap on these students will affect current staffing shortages in all sectors across the country. The Dutch cabinet is also looking to limit migration in other formats, with international students being the latest to be targeted by such aims. According to Housing and Spatial Planning Minister Hugo de Jonge, the government is looking to limit labour migration – the largest component – followed by asylum, relationship and family migration and the fourth-largest category, study migration. Currently, there is a freeze on the recruitment of international students in the Netherlands, pending Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf's research into policy regarding the subject, to be completed in spring 2023.

Thus far, private institutions will be unaffected by the proposed policy changes.

WUP 04/01/2023
by Olivia Nelson
©WUAS Press