More scholarships to attract foreign students
To encourage more international students to study in the Netherlands, the Ministry of Education is creating a scholarship programme that will annually provide 1.000 students with a 5.000 euro scholarship.
According to a press release issued by the Ministry, the aim of the five million euro programme is to attract top foreign students to study in the Netherlands, and to help talented Dutch students study abroad. Dutch universities will cover half of the scholarship costs.
Foreign students improve standards
Talented students from abroad raise educational standards, improve study success (also for Dutch students) and help strengthen the international character of Dutch higher education. In the coming years, the new scholarship program will allow thousands of high-achieving foreign students to study in the Netherlands, as well as helping top Dutch students to study abroad.
International experience essential
For students in higher education it is increasingly important to gain international experience and intercultural skills. Many employers already expect graduates to have international experience. Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, therefore wants international experience to become the norm for all students.
The new international scholarship programme is in line with the Dutch government’s action plan to attract and keep more foreign talent. The application procedure for the programme is yet to be released.
Higher education funding reforms
The launch of the international scholarship programme follows recent reforms in the Dutch student grant system. In May the government agreed to abolish the current student grant system at the start of the 2015 academic year, replacing it with a government loan system.
Currently Dutch students receive a monthly payment known as a performance grant. Only if the student takes longer than 10 years to complete their study does the grant become a loan which must then be paid back.
The new loan system
The new arrangement takes partial inspiration from funding structures implemented or proposed in countries like Britain and Australia. However, unlike the high fees in Britain, the Ministry of Education insists annual tuition will remain low, around 1.835 euros.
Graduates will have 35 years to pay off their loans, with a repayment rate of four per cent of their salary, and beginning only once they are earning more than minimum wage. Grants will still be available to students who qualify as coming from low-income families.
The changes have angered student unions who say that it will increase the average student debt by 15.000 euros. Student groups also point out that students whose parents are not well off will be disproportionately affected, increasing their chances of dropping out.
A higher quality of education
The government has implemented the reforms to free up money to invest in the quality of education. Minister Bussemaker said that investments in education have not kept pace with growth, as the proportion of young adults attending higher education increased from 17 per cent in the 1980s to 42,8 per cent in 2013.
Update: Holland Scholarship launched in 2015
The international scholarship programme, named the Holland Scholarship, was officially launched by the Dutch government at the start of 2015.