20 February 2024, by Emily Proctor

Universities in the Netherlands are looking to limit the number of English-language courses on offer, promote greater use of the Dutch language and reduce the number of international students in the country. The 14 member universities of the “Universities of the Netherlands” (UNL) association have agreed that no more new bachelor’s degrees in English will be developed. 

No new bachelor’s degrees in English in the Netherlands

The universities have agreed to several measures to try to achieve their goals of reducing the number of international students in the Netherlands and prioritising the Dutch language in higher education. These measures include an indefinite hold on the development of any new bachelor’s programmes in English in the Netherlands, as well as creating an inventory of courses that are currently taught in English which could be switched to Dutch. 

Active recruitment of international students at university fairs will also no longer be allowed as part of the agreement, and the association has pledged to make all “major” degree programmes – such as psychology, or economics – available in Dutch, rather than some universities currently only offering these programmes in English. 

Internationalisation is good, but political and social issues remain, says UNL chair

The chairperson of UNL, Jouke de Vries, says that it is time for universities in the Netherlands to shift and adapt to the political and social issues of the time. “On the one hand, we stand for internationalisation, but we also see that social and political questions are being raised about the model we had,” said the chairperson. 

The universities are also keen to promote Dutch culture and the Dutch language as part of their reforms. “I think we have paid too little attention to this in the past,” acknowledges De Vries, who is also chair of the board of the University of Groningen (RUG). The universities want to tackle this by using language and culture courses for students and employees.

Thumb image credit: Nina Alizada / Shutterstock.com

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