New Law to Limit Foreign Student Numbers Sent to Dutch Parliament

New Law to Limit Foreign Student Numbers Sent to Dutch Parliament

New Dutch legislation aims to limit international students and promote Dutch language skills at universities. Learn about the changes and implications.


A new legislation to reduce the number of international students at Dutch universities while encouraging them to learn Dutch has finally been published. 

This long-awaited draft bill, introduced by Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf, was sent to the lower parliament Monday after an extensive consultation.


Key Points of the Legislation

Dijkgraaf emphasized that the debate about the role of colleges and universities in the Netherlands should not become entangled with broader efforts to reduce immigration. 

Some political parties involved in talks on forming a new government are pushing for an absolute limit on the number of new arrivals, including students.

In an interview with the Volkskrant, Dijkgraaf highlighted that the new legislation would provide colleges and universities with the necessary tools to manage the number of non-EU students, considering regional needs such as those in Eindhoven and Limburg, which benefit from international students.


Learning from Denmark’s Experience

Dijkgraaf pointed out that the Netherlands could learn from Denmark’s experience, which reversed strict controls on international students after 2.5 years. 

“We do not want to accelerate, brake, and then accelerate again,” he said.

“That is the lesson we have learned from Denmark.”

The minister assured that the legislation would not tarnish the Dutch reputation as an international, knowledge-based economy and is adaptable enough to handle geopolitical developments. 

However, universities must justify why they want to offer courses in other languages, as mere expansion is no longer valid.


Current International Student Statistics

According to preliminary figures, the number of international students starting bachelor’s degrees this academic year has declined, although slightly more have enrolled in master’s programs.

Despite the legislation being ready for parliamentary processing, the incoming government can withdraw it.

By addressing the growing number of international students and promoting the Dutch language, this legislation aims to balance the educational needs of the Netherlands with broader immigration policies, ensuring that the country remains a vibrant, knowledge-driven economy while managing its resources effectively.


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