Science - November 18, 2004

Grant for top non-EU students

The Dutch government is to set up a new grants programme for students from outside the EU. The ministry of education will earmark twenty million euros a year for the programme. Until now institutions received funds for all non-EU students registered, but starting in 2006 a maximum will be introduced.

The information is in the letter on internationalisation that the secretary of state for education Mark Rutte sent to the Dutch House of Commons. The introduction of a grants programme is intended to compensate for the cuts in financing of students outside the EU announced in the most recent government budget. The government will distribute the money among the Dutch institutions, ‘according to the current numbers of non-EU students’ writes Rutte. The institutions that at present have large numbers of non-EU students can therefore continue to attract students. The exact distribution of the money is not yet known; the ministry first wants to come to agreement with the universities and polytechnics involved.

Rutte expects that setting a ceiling on numbers will improve the quality of new recruits. It will no longer be profitable to attract as many foreign students as possible, regardless of their academic level.

Rutte has received widespread support for the proposal. Both the VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands) and the HBO-raad (Association of Universities of Professional Education) have largely approved the letter. Nuffic (Netherlands Organization for international cooperation in higher education) calls it ‘a very good letter’. The national student union LSVb is not satisfied however. The students refer to a lack of hard policy measures, and regret that Rutte only wants to attract the best foreign students. This will be at the cost of the average students, the ones that need the grants most, according to the LSVb. / HOP, SvO

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