The Lower House has asked State Secretary of Education Halbe Zijlstra questions about the recruitment of students in Saudi Arabia. The Labour Party and the Socialist Party feel that this should not be a chief concern for Dutch universities.
The fuss started after a recent article in De Volkskrant, which said that the universities of Groningen, Maastricht, Leiden, Twente, and Wageningen wanted to appoint a special attaché at the Dutch Embassy in Riyadh, who would focus on recruitment.
Since 2007 the UM has been welcoming approximately forty Saudi students of medicine every year, the same number as Groningen. This is a seven-year project.
According to Albert Scherpbier, director of the education office of the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, however, this is not about recruitment. “The embassy has asked the universities for a contribution towards the costs.” It is a combined form of funding from the Ministry of Education, the UM and the University of Groningen. “At the moment we have the largest number of Saudi students, which explains our part in this.” Scherpbier does not know the exact amount involved.