News - April 10, 2008

‘Universities make money on foreign students’

According to the Dutch students’ union, LSVb, universities and hogescholen earn substantial sums of money on international students. They are raising tuition fees while they also receive a hefty subsidy from the Dutch government.

The government has changed the way it finances universities and universities of applied sciences (hogescholen). At present these establishments receive money for each student enrolled, but that’s about to change. From this year they will receive a fixed amount, based on the number of international students they had two years ago.

According to the LSVb, hogescholen and universities have put up tuition fees for non-EU students by a lot. Hogescholen increased the amount from 2000 to 7000 euros. Wageningen University has raised its tuition fees for new students from 6800 in 2006 to 8250 euros next year. Wageningen receives 2.3 million euros each year from the government for students from outside the EU.

The universities and hogescholen say that the fee rise is needed if the courses for international students are to break even. However, the LSVb does not believe this. Vice-chair Joanneke Krämer: ‘The universities can use that money as they wish. We think that they won’t necessarily use it for funding students from outside the EU.’ The student union is demanding that the minister of education, Ronald Plasterk, compels universities and hogescholen to use part of the money they get for foreign students for a grants programme.

Simon Vink, spokesman for the Executive Board, says that Wageningen does not make money on foreign students. ‘Earning money is not our objective. The tuition fees and the amount we get from the government are just enough to cover our costs. The new financial arrangement works to our disadvantage. If we attract more international students, which we want to do, we won’t get any extra money for them. That forces us to raise tuition fees.’

According to Vink, the LSVb’s complaint that poor students don’t stand a chance because of the high tuition fees is unfounded. ‘There are lots of grants programmes for poor students. They don’t need to worry. And it really is not the case that all people living outside Europe are poor.’