Netherlands about to end academic collaboration with Russia

| HOP, Bas Belleman

Following the line taken by the European Commission, Germany and Denmark, the Netherlands is also going to put scientific collaboration with Russia on hold.

Sources in the academic world have told the Higher Education Press Agency (HOP) that the government will make a statement about it before the end of the week. In common with other countries, the Netherlands is introducing sanctions against the Putin regime. They include sanctions in the domain of science.

The government is likely to try and find the right balance: it does not want the Russian regime to benefit from research funds from the Netherlands, but at the same time it wants to avoid unleashing a witch hunt against individual researchers and students – especially those who are opposed to the war.

European Union

Yesterday the European Commission terminated all scientific collaboration with Russia. No more payments are to be made to Russian partners and no new contracts will be signed.

Russia is a partner country in the European research funding programme Horizon. Russian researchers work in collaboration with European counterparts in fields such as nanotechnology, climate and health.

There is even an EU programme for large-scale research infrastructure going by the name of CREMLINplus, which was set up specifically – and at a cost of 25 billion euros – to get collaboration with the Russians off the ground.

Germany had already announced an academic boycott and Denmark has now done the same. Conversely, Ukraine is being welcomed with open arms, having joined the Horizon programme last year as a partner.

Erasmus

Russia is also a partner country in the European exchange programme Erasmus+. More than 2,500 Russian students came to Europe on exchange, while 1,900 European students went to Russia.

That will presumably change as well, even though the European Commission has said nothing about it yet. It has, however, issued an appeal for help for Ukrainian exchange students and for Erasmus students who are currently in Russia.

Mobility

In 2020, 1,201 students from Russia were taking a degree programme in the Netherlands: more than 900 were studying for a Bachelor’s degree and almost 300 for a Master’s. The numbers had been increasing over the last few years, due in part to a Netherlands Education Support Office (NESO) in Moscow that promotes exchanges.

That puts Russia in 23rd place on the list of the countries of origin of international students, just behind Vietnam and Finland. There are almost 5,000 students from China, while Germany heads the list with nearly 25,000 students.

Almost 700 students came here from Ukraine, 600 of whom were studying for a Bachelor’s degree and 100 for a Master’s.

Fewer students go in the opposite direction, however. The figures are a little behindhand but, as far as is known, in 2018 only 22 Dutch students were studying for a degree in Russia and six in Ukraine.