Dutch students ‘losing out’ due to English degree growth

Domestic students are being squeezed out of Dutch universities by growing numbers of international students, claims a leading newspaper 

February 7, 2018
Tulips and windmills in Netherlands

Dutch students are losing out on university places owing to growing numbers of foreign applicants attracted by degrees taught in English, the Netherlands’ biggest-selling newspaper has said.

In an article titled “Stop the English Madness”, De Telegraaf said that the sharp increase in foreign applications to study in the Netherlands had made it extremely difficult for Dutch students to gain a spot on their preferred degree, particularly when student places were limited on a course.

The piece follows news that applications from international students outnumbered those from domestic students on many courses. Some 594 Dutch students applied for the 600 places to study psychology in English at the University of Amsterdam – as had 1,260 foreign students, according to the website Dutch News.

At Erasmus University Rotterdam, some 2,605 foreign students and 767 Dutch students applied for the 550 places on its course in international business administration, where just 35 per cent of students are from the Netherlands, it added.

About 80,000 foreign students were studying in the Netherlands in 2016-17, about double the number 10 years ago, according to a report published by the education group Nuffic at the end of last year.

Pieter Duisenberg, chairman of VSNU, the Dutch universities association, told De Telegraaf that “internationalisation is a good thing but if the over-representation of foreign students becomes a problem, universities should ask themselves if they should be offering certain subjects in English”.

Tariq Sewbaransingh, from the national student union LSVB, claimed that “all psychology degrees, apart from in Utrecht, are now in English”, which had caused worries about a shortage of psychologists in the Netherlands.

Subjects such as dentistry, pharmacology, Dutch law and even Dutch literature are now being taught in English, he said.

“You should be able to justify why a course is being offered in English,” Michel van Baal, a Delft University of Technology spokesman, told De Telegraaf.

“Aeronautical engineering is a logical subject to offer in English and we have a lot of foreign students,” he said.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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