SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch universities fear the government may be planning to bring in some form of compulsory Dutch lessons for foreign students, Times Higher Education said on Thursday.
Several sources have told the website that this is one of the ideas being considered by the education ministry, which is planning to announce its new strategy for higher education next month.
There has been mounting concern in the Netherlands about the number of foreign students attending Dutch university and college courses, prompting many degrees to be only offered in Dutch.
Some 11% of the Dutch student body is from abroad. In June 2018, education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said the Dutch higher education system can continue to offer more courses and degrees in English, as long as it leads to an improvement in standards and that Dutch students are not forced out.
In addition, she said, it should be possible for universities and colleges to give priority to Dutch students.
Last year too, Dutch universities published a document calling for the number of courses given in English to be capped in an attempt to contain the growing number of international students.
However, efforts by a Dutch language campaign group to force Maastricht and Twente Universities to stop offering bachelor’s degrees in psychology in English failed, when a judge said that while education and exams should in principle be conducted in Dutch’ this is not obligatory.
Currently Dutch universities are only supposed to offer degrees in English if it is ‘necessary’, although the rules are widely flouted.