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‘Let international students pay for programs in foreign languages’ says CDA

Bachelor’s programs in a foreign language should receive less government funding than programs in Dutch, argues parliamentarian Harry van der Molen of the governing CDA party. He wants to make it financially less attractive for Dutch institutions of higher education to attract foreign students. The House of Representatives may possibly vote on the matter today.

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It will probably not come to that, says Van der Molen, and perhaps it isn’t even feasible. But he believes the matter should at least be looked at. Today, the House of Representatives votes on his proposal. He would have preferred to let the commission Van Rijn look into it. This commission is currently looking for an alternative to the funding system in higher education at the request of education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven. But the commission already has its hands full according to the minister. Should the House of Representatives request it, a different commission can look into the matter, Van Engelshoven says.

Why this motion?
Van der Molen: “One of Van Rijn’s tasks is to see how we can prevent institutions from trying to attract ever more students. Because a high number of students is financially advantageous right now, many institutions switch to English so they can target international students as well. Our proposal is one of the ways to get rid of that incentive.”

If the House of Representatives votes in favor of the proposal, will it be implemented immediately?
“No, it’s something for the long term. We can discuss it when minister Van Engelshoven presents her strategic agenda for higher education at the end of the year.”

Are institutions supposed to make the students pay for the costs, which will lead to a higher tuition fee for programs in English?
“That could be a possible outcome. International agreements prevent institutions from charging students from Europe higher tuition fees than Dutch students. If programs in English were to become more expensive than programs in Dutch, that might lead to a similar effect.”

But Dutch students follow programs in English as well.
“True, but that mostly applies to Master’s programs. Those are usually English-taught because they prepare students for an international career. But many Bachelor’s programs in English - not counting exceptions such as English Language and Culture - are aimed at international students. Those programs should be paid for primarily by these students.”

Some universities practically offer programs in English exclusively. They will soon have a problem…
“That is true. We need to seriously contemplate the consequences. For this reason, our motion doesn’t say: we must do this! But: let's look at this. If it turns out the consequences are too drastic, we will have to look for another solution.”

The Executive Board at TU/e, where practically all Bachelor’s programs are English-taught, does not wish to respond to Van der Molen’s proposal at this point. Spokesman Barend Pelgrim has said the board will reconsider should a majority of the House of Representatives be in favor of the motion.

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