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Council of State supports internationalization bill

Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau,
16 april 2024 - 17:08

The Council of State supports the “Internationalization in Balance” bill. However, it should clearly state that closing down studies in a foreign language is “an extreme measure.” In hbo, little needs to change, according to the council.

Higher education is reaching its limits in some areas due to the influx of international students, writes the Advisory Division of the Council of State in an advisory report published today. It previously supported the plan to be able to put the brakes on the number of students admitted to English language study programs.
Labor market
The Department also understands that the minister wants to be able to test whether existing and new bachelor programs in another language are “effective.” But this should also take into account “the future needs of society and the labor market both nationally and in the region where an educational institution is located.”
Outgoing Minister Dijkgraaf wants to encourage institutions to cooperate and “self-manage“ in the field of internationalization. The Advisory Division thinks this is a good idea and even suggests making mutual consultation on the foreign language educational offerings at institutions mandatory.

Institutions need to know where they stand when their foreign language programs are reviewed

Legal certainty
Institutions need to know where they stand when their foreign language programs are reviewed. For example, according to the Division, it is unclear in the current proposal whether the minister takes into consideration whether a program has a sufficient number of suitable staff that speak Dutch or a foreign language.
The explanatory memorandum to the bill also states that the minister shall only intervene in existing foreign language educational offerings in extreme cases. But, “From the point of view of legal certainty for the institutions,” it is better for the government to put this in the law itself, they advise.
HBO exception
The Department sees little reason to intervene massively in English language HBO. The intake of international students there has been fairly stable for years, and there are far fewer English programs than in academic education. The Division therefore recommends that the effectiveness test not yet apply to HBO, or at least that a lighter test be used.
Outgoing Minister Dijkgraaf says he finds the advice of the Council of State valuable and will respond to it later in substance. In his initial response, he emphasized that his bill has kept in mind “(regional) customization so that we attract international talent to (and retain it in) the places where we desperately need it.”