Dutch universities might have to introduce compulsory language lessons for foreign students, as the government has hinted at new plans for higher education.
A growing number of international students have entered higher education in the Netherlands. Dutch universities are offering an increasing number of programs in English, which makes higher education more accessible to foreign students.
However, the government and some higher education institutions have raised concerns about the rise in international students. Currently, about eleven percent of all people attending a university course in the Netherlands were not born in the country.
According to universities, there should be a limit to the number of English courses institutions could offer to battle this increase. Some of the most popular universities for international students include the ones in Maastricht and Twente. However, these institutions might have to start offering Dutch classes to international students in order to keep them in programs.
While some countries like Portugal welcome the rise in international students, Dutch universities are expressing concerns for higher education in the country. According to some, programs are becoming increasingly focused on internationals. This is a problem as fewer spaces become available for Dutch natives to attend classes in English.
The government, however, is still reluctant to address the problem. In 2018, Ingrid van Engelshoven, Dutch Minister of Education, claimed that universities could offer multiple programs in English, as long as this leads to the overall improvement in quality, and does not exclude Dutch students.
The legislative system is also unclear on the matter, as laws state that classes and exams don’t need to be held in Dutch, which means there are no restrictions as to the language of university programs.