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Too few credits? Leave the country!

From 2011 onwards, students from outside Europe who come to study in the Netherlands, must earn at least half of their credits each year. If they don't, they will lose their residency permits. Maastricht rector Gerard Mols speaks of a “harsh measure”.

The Dutch Modern Migration Policy Act that will come into force on January 1st, makes educational institutes responsible for keeping tabs on the study achievements of their students from outside the EU and the European Economic Area (Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland). If a student earns insufficient credits, the institute must report this to the IND (the organisation for entry into the Netherlands). The latter will then withdraw the student’s residency permit. The advantage of the new act is that from 2011, non-European Economic Area students can get a residency permit for the entire duration of their studies. This saves a lot of red tape and money.

The act was made stricter because the government wants non-European students who come to the Netherlands to study rather than to work. For the same reason, outgoing minister Donner recently said that he would not relax the rules on part-time jobs. Non-European students have the choice between working up to ten hours a week, or just during the summer months. Moreover, in order to do so, they must apply for an employment permit. Traineeships are only allowed if these are a compulsory part of the study.

The new measure ‘Too few credits? Then leave the Netherlands!’ is described by rector Gerard Mols as “a rather harsh measure. This way, European and non-European students are not being treated equally. Although you can never expel a Dutch student from the country. And of course, you can say that people who do not earn half of their credits, are not great talents. But students from outside Europe sometimes need time to settle in. I understand that this is part of the immigration policy and that the policy is being tightened. A pity. What problems are we solving? Are there actually problems? How many people are we talking about? If this is about tracking down no-show students (people who register as students, but never show up, ed.) then you could also set the limit at zero credits.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice informed us that the main objective of this bill was not to “clamp down on students. It’s about simplifying residency procedures and enforcing them.” He cannot say, off the top of his head, how many students have been deported lately for having worked too much. “We register the number of applications, extensions, rejections and withdrawals of residency permits. Withdrawal or non-extension can have various reasons: moving elsewhere, identity fraud, studying at an institute that is not accredited, exceeding the maximum allowable number of hours of work. When this new act has become effective, I hope to be able to provide the figures immediately.”





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