Parliament wants bill quickly on influx of foreign students

Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf needs to get his skates on and come up with a bill before the summer to control the influx of international students. This is the view of a majority of the House of Representatives.

Last week, coalition parties VVD and CDA, along with JA21, BBB and Pieter Omtzigt, tabled a motion during the debate on the education budget. They wanted to urge Minister Dijkgraaf to act with speed.

The motion states that after years of discussion there is still no solution to rein in the influx of international students. This puts the accessibility of higher education to Dutch students under pressure, the proposers say.

They are referring to the situation whereby Dutch students have to compete with international students in the selection for popular study programmes. The accessibility is also indirectly under pressure because of a lack of accommodation in student cities.

Before the summer

So a majority of the House of Representatives wants Dijkgraaf to come up with a new bill before the summer to control the influx. Coalition party ChristenUnie voted in favour of the motion too. Dijkgraaf’s own party, D66, voted against it.

In the debate last week the Minister said he did not plan to put forward a bill of that nature. He wants to make proposals in February with regard to internationalisation and then come up with an outlook for the future of the education system as a whole before the summer. After all, you need that outlook before preparing a bill.

The House of Representatives thinks otherwise. VVD MP Hatte van der Woude said during voting on Tuesday that the VVD wants the Minister to write to Parliament before the end of next week setting out how he is going to implement the motion. A request of that sort is not unusual when a minister opposes a motion.

Door ajar

In the debate it seemed that the Minister was leaving the door ajar for a compromise. The House of Representatives previously agreed to a bill proposed by his predecessor, Ingrid van Engelshoven. That proposal is still with the Senate. He was reticent, but hinted that the government might go back to it. If necessary, he could make slight amendments to the points he does not like.

A PVV motion to make Dutch the language of instruction for all university Bachelor’s degree programmes was rejected, even though – among others – coalition parties CDA and ChristenUnie voted in favour of it.


Another notable motion was adopted: a majority supported the PvdA proposal to give force of law to scientific teaching in Frisian, the second national language.

That motion was a response to the news that the professor of Frisian at the University of Groningen is retiring and no successor has yet been found. Consequently, the Master’s degree programme in Frisian might disappear because of a lack of students. PvdA MP Habtamu de Hoop was pleased with the support. On Monday, the Frisian flag was flying at half-mast in Groningen, he told the House of Representatives.

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