Dutch want compensation for foreign students

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Deputy Education Minister Halbe Zijlstra has threatened universities and colleges in the east of the Netherlands with closure if they continue to actively recruit students from just across the border in Germany.

Last week, the deputy minister drew up a profit-loss analysis of student-exchange programmes between EU member states. The analysis had been requested by parliament.

His conclusion was that the Dutch tax payer spend more than 90 million euros a year providing higher education for total of 34,000 foreign students - most of whom leave the Netherlands after completing their education. In comparison, just 19,000 Dutch students are studying abroad.

Of the 34,000 foreign students at Dutch universities, no less than 24,000 are German. The Dutch government wants Germany to start making a contribution to the cost of educating these students. It points out that the number of Germans studying in the Netherlands is increasing by 14 percent annually.

In a letter to parliament, Mr Zijlstra writes he fears "an unbridled increase” in the numbers could lead to “seriously negative consequences” for some courses.

He says some colleges in the border region appear to recruit German students mainly because of a shortage of Dutch students. Some classes are taught exclusively in German and “do not appear to meet a strong demand from the Dutch labour market”

Mr Zijlstra says he will take the issue of financial compensation up with the German government. “There is a growing need to arrive at a balanced division of costs.” Denmark and Sweden introduced cost-sharing systems in 1996.

However, the minister also sees advantages in the exchange programmes. Foreign students are often highly motivated and have a positive effect on the results of their Dutch fellow students, provided they are in internationally mixed groups, not just among compatriots.

Foreign students also often land ‘internationally oriented’ jobs upon their return to their country of origin, where they make use of their Dutch network which has a favourable effect on Dutch trade.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide  

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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