Student assessors: Let us join the discussion on internationalisation

| Jelle Posthuma

The student assessors of nine Dutch universities, including the UT, are missing the student perspective in the debate on the internationalisation of higher education. They write this in a letter to education minister Dijkgraaf. 'We as students want to participate in the conversation.'

Photo: Students working on a group project on campus, photo for illustration purposes.

A possible return of Dutch as the language of instruction in undergraduate education and a restriction on the intake of international students: calls to curb the internationalisation of higher education are growing louder in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer). In a letter to Minister Dijkgraaf, student assessors expressed their concerns about the development of the debate. They represent students at administrative level within the university.


Five student assessors of the UT also signed the letter. According to Noah van Dijk, student assessor of the S&T faculty, the students' perspective is missing from the current debate. ‘Our future is being discussed while we ourselves cannot have a say. Education might experience a radical change if there is less or no internationalisation at our universities. It feels like those decisions are now being taken top-down.’

Above all, this is a call to join the conversation as students, according to the UT assessor. ‘We would like to answer questions from the minister. Think of questions like: in what language do students want education? And what do students think internationalisation has contributed?’ Van Dijk stresses that the student assessors do not take a stance in the letter. ‘Which is why we want to involve the university council in these discussions. They represent the student's opinion.’


Van Dijk himself sees internationalisation as something positive. ‘Ironically, my own study, Applied Physics, is in Dutch. But that doesn’t change my point of view. Through the study association and as a student assessor, I have plenty of contact with international students. I see that as an enrichment, even if there are problems with for example housing. Students at technical universities often end up working in an international environment. The current international campus environment contributes to our development. I would deem it a loss if that were to disappear.'

The student assessors state in the letter that they see the call as ‘a starting point’ to increase the involvement of students in the discussion. Minister Dijkgraaf has previously announced that he will present his plans for the internationalisation of higher education in March.

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