Dutch students choose to study in Flanders

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During the past five years the University of Antwerp experienced an increase of 117% in the number of Dutch students, with student numbers increasing from 420 to 913. Similarly the Free University of Brussels Vrije Universiteit Brussel, VUB and the University of Leuven report an increase of 76% and 105% respectively, with the University of Ghent recording a less impressive 25%. Because student numbers are limited by the so-called numerus fixus, many Dutch students have opted to complete their studies in medicine and veterinary science, as well as some other fields of study, at universities in Flanders. During the past academic year Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte announced severe measures against  students who fail to complete their studies within a certain time. “We have noticed that Dutch students make the best of a bad job by choosing a course at a Flanders university,” says Peter De Meyer of the University of Antwerp. These students are often not selected for their first choice of study in the Netherlands. “I cannot deny that Dutch pass marks in Bachelor’s courses are slightly lower,” confirms De Meyer. Next year Dutch universities also plan to limit registrations for courses in Economics and Law. “This could result in a bigger influx of  students from this country,” De Meyer remarks. In Flanders education circles have warned about the risks of a major influx of students from the Netherlands, as Dutch students place an excessive burden on Belgian taxpayers, whereas the opposite does not apply. As yet no such problems seem forthcoming, however, and Flemish universities have meanwhile launched various recruitment drives across the border. Only recently a Belgian delegation attended the education fair in Utrecht.

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