A New Scholarship Fund for International Students in the Netherlands Proposed

Wittenborg University says it would welcome a dedicated fund from the Dutch government aimed at scholarships for international students - provided all institutes would benefit from it.Wittenborg University says it would welcome a dedicated fund from the Dutch government aimed at scholarships for international students - provided all institutes would benefit from it.

This follows a warning this week from universities and other institutes of higher education in the Netherlands that the country’s labour market will ultimately suffer if it is unable to attract talented internationals. One way to prevent this, they claim, would be to reinstate a bursary scheme for top international students.

These remarks were contained in a report by the Vereniging Hogenscholen (Association of Universities of Applied Sciences)and the Vereniging van Universiteiten or ‘VSNU’ (Association of Universities) entitled “Gezamenlijke Visie Internasionaal” (Joint International Vision)which the two organizations submitted to the Minister of Education, Jet Bussemaker, this week. However, they warned a new scholarship programme might not suffice - the Netherlands also needs a comprehensive branding campaign, including promoting the country’s tertiary institutes through trade missions. “The labour market is getting increasingly more international, hence students need international skills.”

In 2012 the Netherlands abolished its successful Huygen-scholarship program. In the meantime countries like Britain, Sweden, Finland and Germany continued with their international bursary schemes.

Following the submission, Wittenborg University in Apeldoorn as well Webster University in Leiden, were approached by the NRTO (Nederlandse Raad voor Training en Opleiding) to provide insight on giving an international dimension to higher education in the Netherlands.

“Both Webster and Wittenborg are English medium size universities and both have an excellent record of attracting international students from a diverse background. Both have proven the creation of an international classroom within Dutch higher education is possible. There are about 500 non-EU students currently studying at Webster and Wittenborg from at least 60 different nationalities. Of 5 749 students from outside the EER studying in the Netherlands more than 10% are studying at private institutes such as Wittenborg and Webster.

Wittenborg director, Peter Birdsall, said he does not need scholarships to create an International Classroom. “However, we would welcome scholarship funding if it is for all institutes.”

NRTO suggests a Centre of Excellence be set up advising on internationalization and that Wittenborg University and Webster University can play an important role in the developing of an International Classroom.

“That does not mean simply putting a bunch of different nationalities in a classroom, but requires an adaption of the entire curriculum. On the request of the province Gelderland Wittenborg has been exploring ideas around this which has also been discussed with Bussemaker when she visited the school at the beginning of March as well as with Nuffic a few weeks back.”

WUP16/6/2014

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by Anesca Smith