A week before Christmas, the Dutch Senate passed the Bill on Language and Accessibility - meant to rein in the tide of English in higher education and ensure the survival of Dutch - after fierce debate.
Dutch Higher Education
Despite being a hefty 134 pages long, the Dutch government’s new Strategic Agenda for Higher Education has drawn criticism for its lack of concrete plans and time frames for its execution.
While public universities in the Netherlands will likely have to justify why they offer programmes in English in the future, no such obligation will rest on private institutions like Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, the Dutch minister of education, culture and science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, assured Parliament this week.
The number of VWO students in the Netherlands starting a Dutch university study remains more or less the same, while the influx of international students continues to grow. This year 20 percent of university students come from abroad.
Wittenborg has welcomed a proposal from Dutch institutions of higher education that students at universities of applied sciences should also be given the opportunity to do PhDs and not only those at research universities.
At a recent meeting with 12 public and private institutions in the north-east region of the Netherlands, one of the discussion points was how the country can stay ahead of the game in higher education and research. Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences was also at the meeting.
Fewer scholarships and higher fees are what non-EU students planning to study at public universities in the Netherlands face, should new cabinet proposals to deal with the influx of international students come into force. Whether this will also apply to private institutions like Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, that are not publicly funded, is unclear.
The Dutch government is taking some serious steps to curb the number of international students coming to the country, which includes raising the minimum tuition fee for students from outside the European Economic Area and compelling them to take Dutch lessons, ScienceGuide reported this week.
Under pressure from the populist right and facing shrinking budgets, Dutch universities are not having a stellar moment. What does this mean for the future of internationalism in the Netherlands and institutions like Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences with its high number of foreign students and where the entire curriculum is taught in English? Can it withstand the pressure from the right?
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences has called on the Dutch Ministry of Education to evaluate the way agencies recruit international students for transition-year programmes, which eventually win them a place at Dutch universities, questioning whether that place is legitimately earned.