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Dutch university association calls for more scholarships for international students10 June 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
VSNU, the national association for universities in the Netherlands, is calling on the Dutch government to help to increase the numbers of foreign students coming to the Netherlands to study.
In a joint document presented to the Minister for Education, VSNU and Vereniging Hogescholen, the association for universities of Applied Sciences, argued that it was vital that more foreign students come to the Netherlands, and that more Dutch students spend (part of) their study abroad.
The previous international scholarship programme, the Huygens Scholarship programme, was cancelled in 2012 and nothing has taken its place.
VSNU argues that a solid scholarship programme provides an international competitive advantage, one that other European counties are investing in.
"Without a new generic scholarship programme, the Netherlands prices itself out of the market," the report says.
Scholarships alone not enough
A scholarship programme alone, however, is not enough to attract foreign students. The whole Dutch higher education system should be branded and marketed, they argue, focusing on uniquely Dutch aspects.
The association thinks promotion should highlight the breadth of higher education in the Netherlands, including the range of degrees, the links between education and research, the wide range of English-language courses and the close co-operation between higher education and industry.
"The active promotion of the good reputation of Dutch higher education and research is needed to interest enough students and teachers to come here to study or work," the report states.
There are signs that the Dutch system is well regarded internationally, however. Research conducted recently by international association of universities Universitas21 ranked the Dutch university education system seventh globally.
Also, last year saw a rise of five per cent in the numbers of foreign students coming to the Netherlands to study, the third year in row enrolments have increased.
Importance of international students
Nonetheless, the universities argue that more should be done to increase the influx of foreign talent into the Netherlands.
They argue that international students and teachers make an important contribution to both the Dutch education system and the national knowledge economy, especially if students stay to work in the Netherlands after graduation.
The government already has a plan to help international students stay in the Netherlands after graduation, although this does not include scholarships to attract them in the first place.
The paper argues that along with a new scholarship programme, more should be done to further develop the system of the "international classroom," where local and foreign students mix.
Further, they think universities and hogescholen should invest more in the digitisation of education and the English-language skills of staff and faculty.