This academic year, a record-breaking number of international students is studying in The Netherlands, according to an analysis by Nuffic, Dutch organization for internationalization in education. The Dutch Student Union (LSVb) and the Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO) are afraid that universities do not take into account what the consequences are of attracting international students.
Original text: Elisa Ros Villarte
Translation: Evelien Müller
The number of non-Dutch students has risen with ten thousand people in contrast to the academic year 2016-2017. This means that a total of 122,000 international students are studying at Dutch universities. Therefore, on average, one out of eight students is an international student. Out of those 122,000 students, 90,000 students are enrolled in a full-time bachelor or master, while the rest is staying in The Netherlands for a semester or a year only. At Radboud University (RU), the number of international students has not risen as drastically as at other universities. The internationalization allows students to exchange experiences and to get in touch with people from a variety of backgrounds, according to the ISO. In order to realize this, the ISO deems it necessary that universities stimulate the integration of international students.
This cultural diversity, however, also has a negative side. Because universities wish to attract more international students, many programs are now taught fully or partly in English. The LSVb is concerned that the quality of lectures will suffer because of this, and that Dutch students will have to compete with international students for a place in subsequent education. There will thus be fewer places for Dutch students. Furthermore, because of the lack of student housing in many cities, there is not enough housing for those extra students, although this too is less of a problem in Nijmegen. The LSVb is asking universities to ‘stand down and revise their strategy’. Several universities cannot handle the large number of international students, but rejecting students on grounds of their descent is discrimination. Because of this, the ministry of Education, Culture and Science cannot implement any measures to control internationalization.
Internationalization can be beautiful, but can get out of control. Universities should therefore pay attention to the effects of the rising number of international students. The RU is doing fairly well on many issues, such as the housing of international students. However, there are some problems as well in Nijmegen, for example regarding the quality of English lectures.