While there is increasing criticism about what is perceived as excessive ‘anglicisation’ of higher education, universities and schools of higher professional education are arguing that internationalisation of education can be taken much further. They presented their memo to education minister Van Engelshoven.
The institutes refer to the advantages of internationalisation. Society is ageing and there are various shortages arising on the labour market. Why should we not recruit foreign students to help fill the voids?
Internationalisation would also be good for education. After all, students would learn to deal with other cultures, become acquainted with traditions from other countries, which would make them better prepared for the international labour market.
There may also be some problems with internationalisation, but according to the memo, politicians can solve these easily. It is a matter of slightly adapting laws and regulations, so that higher education is given more freedom to ‘manoeuvre’.
Next month, Minister Van Engelshoven will send a letter to the Lower House, in which she will set out her vision on internationalisation and education in English. That is the reason why the lobby for the education institutes are working at full force.
They present the fact that the number of foreign students is growing as an inevitable fact, which must be dealt with adequately. One in every three university lecturers is also from abroad, as are half of the PhD candidates. Things will be fine as long as universities and schools of higher professional education have the necessary means to safeguard quality.
For example, what should be done if too many foreign students apply for a particular study programme, or if the number of Dutch students is threatening to become too small? One should then be able to intervene, the institutes think. Give universities and schools of higher professional education the possibility to select by nationality, so as to guarantee the diversity of the ‘international classroom’.
Institutes also want to be able to offer both Dutch and English tracks: this means that Dutch students will always have access (through the Dutch track) to the programme and a limit on the number of students could be introduced for the English variant. Higher education will thus remain accessible for Dutch students in the future, even if there is a large influx of foreign students.
Higher tuition fees for students from outside Europe, additional training for lecturers, adequate student accommodations, and more Dutch students going abroad… all options are mentioned. Education institutes also want to work on improving their branding abroad.
In the ‘final deliberation’, the writers of the memo summarise the state of affairs in the Netherlands: the number of Dutch students will drop between 2024 and 2030, while the ‘grey pressure’ will increase: in fifteen years’ time, one in every three Dutch persons will be retired.
So, one could maximise the recruitment of foreign students. If the government pays for extra lecturers, then another forty thousand students could come here. Ultimately, this would be a good thing for society, they think.
HOP, Bas Belleman