The Minister allows universities and universities of applied sciences to set financial thresholds to students from outside Europe. WUR does not intend to do so: ‘If the influx becomes too high, we could also choose to increase the admission requirements.’
Educational institutions only receive funding from the government for students from European countries (within the European Economic Area – EEA) who do not yet have a bachelor's or master's degree. However, they may decide their own fee for students who are following a second programme or who come from outside the EEA: the institutional tuition fee.
At the request of the political parties GroenLinks and D66, a maximum (article in Dutch) will be set to that fee, but this upper limit only applies to students from within the EEA, Minister Van Engelshoven wrote (document in Dutch) to the House of Representatives yesterday. She wants to give institutions the possibility to keep some control over the number of students from outside Europe.
Delft University of Technology already decided to apply this option: starting next year, non-EEA students will pay 14,500 euros in tuition fees. The university cannot cope with the influx of international students and currently sees the increase of tuition fees as the only legal option to gain some grip on the influx from abroad.
WUR does not intend to use tuition fees to reduce the influx of international students. It currently only asks students from outside the EEA to cover the costs, and it intends to continue doing so for the time being. Dean of Education Arnold Bregt explains: ‘I understand that Delft University of Technology is using this as an emergency solution, because several programmes have started to grow immensely. The growth in Wageningen is more balanced, without such peaks.’
Even if WUR would grow faster in the future, Bregt sees other possibilities for keeping it under control. ‘The effect of higher tuition fees is that the wealthier students, who are not necessarily the better students, are admitted. One could wonder whether that is the right measure to take. If the growth becomes too strong, we could also increase the admission requirements for non-EEA students. We have done this recently by raising the required level of English for certain master's programmes, for example.’
Minister Van Engelshoven is still working on a legislative amendment that would allow universities to introduce a student cap (article in Dutch) for English variants of study programmes.