The University of Amsterdam wants to curb international student numbers

The University of Amsterdam wants to curb international student numbers

The number of internationals studying a full-time degree course at a Dutch research university or university of applied sciences has grown to 80.000 in 2016-17, according to research from the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education, Nuffic. The University of Amsterdam has expressed concern and the university rector, Karen Maex, has asked the Minister of Education to help control the influx of international students.

International students in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Maastricht are the most popular cities for international students, both drawing in around 10.000. In Amsterdam, these 10.000 international students account for about 10 percent of the student population, whilst in Maastricht they make up half of it.

Rotterdam and Groningen are also popular and attract 8.000 international students each. In Delft, Wageningen and The Hague, foreign students account for around 20 percent of the total student population.

At the University of Amsterdam (UvA), around 15 percent of the total number of students is a foreign national and, due to newly introduced English-taught Bachelor’s degrees, the percentage of international students is close to 25 percent amongst first-year students.

Of the some 12.000 international students graduating every year, 25 percent of them will take up root and stay in the Netherlands. Also, according to models from the Netherlands Central Planning Bureau (CPB), those staying in the Netherlands will generate 1,57 billion euros annually for the Dutch economy.

University of Amsterdam concerns

To mark the University of Amsterdam’s 386th anniversary, university rector Maex gave a speech and addressed certain concerns and goals of the university when it comes to internationalisation.

In particular, the UvA has concerns about the lack of student housing available to international students, and is urging the city to provide more. They themselves want to give potential students detailed information about the student housing situation in Amsterdam. 

There are also worries concerning the ratio of international students to Dutch students and accessibility for Dutch students. A mixed group of students from both the Netherlands and other countries is desirable, but in order to achieve this, Maex feels that it should be possible to govern the inflow of students.

70 percent of international students at the UvA come from EU countries, this poses a problem in terms of inflow governance, as EU students must be afforded the same rights as Dutch ones.

Another issue which was raised touches on the bilingualism of the UvA. The university rector expressed a need to strike a balance between Dutch and English-taught programmes. Maex spoke about two options when it comes to bilingualism in the university.

Firstly, the option of Dutch programmes with a touch of English, making it possible for short-stay international students to study in Amsterdam, was given. Another option would be English-taught programmes with specific objectives, which would also look at Dutch language skills for those students who can speak Dutch.

Plans for the future

The UvA aims to shape itself into an internationally oriented, bilingual and culturally integrated university during the next 10 years. To achieve this goal, certain measures will be taken and the UvA will have to adapt its policy to ensure that quality education can be provided.

Maex has already asked the Minister of Education for help regarding the influx of international students and this year, the UvA wants to have finished their International Classroom concept. By 2020, they want to have incorporated international and intercultural aspects into a number of programmes.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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