Public debate 'international student influx'

Minister Dijkgraaf (Education, Culture and Science) wants to take measures to improve the management of incoming international students. The main point is the use of the Dutch language in Bachelor’s programmes, with English-taught Bachelor’s education only allowed by exception. Unfortunately, the contents of the upcoming bill, and therefore possible consequences for our university, are currently unknown. While working out the new plan, tailor-made options may be possible.

The announced measures concern legislation regarding the preservation and strengthening of the Dutch language and a more specified use of a numerus fixus. In addition, agreements with universities and colleges will be made about targeted student recruitment with a focus on regional labour market (shortages), active guidance of international students towards the Dutch labour market, and the provision of proper accommodation information for international students.

Potential impact on UU

What the announced measures will mean for Utrecht University is not clear yet and depends on the legislative process. The Executive Board  monitors developments closely and will discuss this with the minister, alongside other universities.

At the moment, possible consequences for Utrecht University are:

  • new rules regarding the availability of English-language Bachelor’s programmes;
  • increased range of Dutch language courses for international students and staff;
  • increased language entry requirements for lecturers.

UU as an inclusive community

Utrecht University is a bilingual university, with its own careful language policy. Dutch-taught education is the aim, while maintaining room for the international perspective for students and lecturers. The university offers an international environment where diversity and inclusion are key. Both university colleges (UCU and UCR) are based on the international classroom with many international perspectives and are therefore English-taught.

"At Utrecht University, we stand for an international environment. This contributes to a stimulating academic and intellectual climate, such as the international classroom. It also fits in the open attitude we want to carry out as a university. We find it important that our international community also feels welcome here", says Prof Henk Kummeling, Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University.

UU numbers

At Utrecht University, around one out of seven students is of international origin; 14 per cent. The university values this greatly. In the 2023-2024 academic year, only a small number of the UU Bachelor's programmes are largely in English. The minister's plan mainly concerns these English-taught Bachelor's programmes at UU.

Follow-up process

This summer, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will share the finalised version of the new bill. This will be followed by a public, online consultation with the opportunity to respond in depth. UU will actively participate. This will be done in close consultation with the English-taught Bachelor’s programmes this concerns. The education directors and vice-deans of the relevant programmes will be approached directly about this.

Questions or comments?

For questions or comments on this subject, teachers are requested to contact their director of education and students are requested to contact their student information officer.