Poor non-EU students win Dutch funding
8 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Overseas Development Minister Agnes van Ardenne is prepared to compensate budget cuts announced by the Education Ministry this week that will restrict the entry of many non-European Union academics to the Netherlands.
8 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — Overseas Development Minister Agnes van Ardenne is prepared to compensate budget cuts announced by the Education Ministry this week that will restrict the entry of many non-European Union academics to the Netherlands.
Education State Secretary Mark Rutte has said the government will no longer assist universities and higher education institutes to pay the costs for non-EU academics.
This will lead to a rise in student costs by EUR 10,000 to EUR 15,000, making it unaffordable for many foreign students to study in the Netherlands. The costs for some courses such as medicine will increase by much more, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.
Instead of paying subsidies to higher education institutes, Rutte has announced a scholarship scheme amounting to EUR 10 million annually. The scheme — to be fully introduced in 2006 — is designed to attract only the very best non-EU students, restricting the entry of others.
After being presented at the Wageningen University with a petition protesting against Rutte's plans on Monday, Van Ardenne told students she was shocked to learn of the looming changes. Half of the university's students are foreigners, many of them from developing nations.
She said she has decided to "repair" the Education Ministry's budget cuts from her own budget, fearing that the reduced funding will negatively impact on the policies of the Overseas Development Ministry.
A spokeswoman for the Wageningen Students Association WSO, Margriet van der Zouw, said Van Ardenne's plans were sympathetic, but also pointed out that development co-operation was not intended to fund expat academics.
"It would be a shame if the poor children of Africa have to foot the bill for our education," she said.
The spokesman for Van Ardenne said that the minister has not renounced Rutte's plans, which have been included in the Dutch Cabinet's policies. "But the exchange of knowledge and experience is also in the interests of development co-operation," he said.
With the Dutch government currently funding non-EU students annually to the tune of EUR 25 million — which is paid directly to tertiary education institutes, which then channel the money onto non-EU students — Van Ardenne is prepared to plug any gaps that might arise as a result of the looming funding cuts.
Van Ardenne has not identified a precise figure and said she will only make funding available "under strict conditions". She is also wary of the abuse of finances.
"But it speaks for itself that we will primarily pay for the studies of students from the poorest countries, rather than for those from rich countries," the minister said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news