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Too many international students are going Dutch, say politicians

The Dutch parliament has called upon the country’s universities to stop marketing their degree courses to international students in order to cut the number of overfilled classrooms and reduce their impact on the country’s housing shortage. Foreign students now make up 25% of all first-year students in the Netherlands and 40% of students in the Netherlands’ scientific and research universities.

Accommodation presents a particular problem, as the majority of Dutch students live at home and commute to university for free on the country’s rail network. As a result, student residences are few and far between, and foreign students struggle to find housing, especially when they first arrive. 

“There is simply too little capacity,” Peter Kwint, from the Socialist Party (SP) is quoted as saying. “Those international students can’t help it, but they have to sleep in tents for the first few months or pay a lot of rent.”

Seventy-six per cent of foreign students in the country are from the EU, the majority of these being German citizens, attracted by the number of English-medium degrees on offer and the low fees of between €500 and €2,100 per annum, depending on the university. Numbers of students from outside the EU, who pay fees of between €6,000 and €15,000 at undergraduate level, have also been growing, especially from India and China.

International students are three times as likely as their Dutch peers to drop out in their first year, according to government research, but around 60% go on to finish their degree, roughly the same percentage as for local students.

Image courtesy of Alex Waltner /
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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