Internationalisation? Help pay for it!

02 Oct 2018

The growing number of students from all corners of the world costs a lot of money. Who’s paying for it? Professor Marc van Oostendorp has an idea: increase tuition fees for English-taught programmes.

The internationalisation of the University is a luxury. All those students from little Spanish villages, German cities and Indian metropolises have only made our Campus livelier. Who can deny it? It’s nice to have people around who view the world from a different perspective; it’s refreshing to hear completely different opinions voiced in lecture halls; and the quality of coffee has clearly improved. Nijmegen is in danger of turning into a world city.

The only question is: Who’s paying for all this luxury? Who’s making sure all these people have a roof over their heads? And a cortado? Who’s footing the bill for their lecturers and their little pleasures?

The answer is not: the foreign students themselves. Or barely: tuition fees in the Netherlands are extremely low and, together with the wide range of English-taught programmes on offer, this is one of the main reasons people choose to study in the Netherlands.

But that means these costs are charged double to Dutch people who have nothing to do with our lively Campus. They pay once the taxes that make it possible for all those students from Spain, Germany and India to study here. And then again later, since an explosion in student numbers does not translate to more government funding, the children of these tax-payers also get lower-quality education, which – aside from all the fun and good cheer – means less value for their money. Plus, if things on Campus go on as they do now, the Dutch language runs the risk of being taken over by English.

Of course, we can be proud of being such a hospitable nation and living in a country that attracts so many people from all over the world and offering them a cheap high-quality education. But when the system threatens to burst at the seams, you need a solution. And it seems reasonable to ask foreign students or their parents to contribute to this solution.

Morally and legally, you can’t ask foreigners to pay more, especially not if they come from EU countries. But here’s an idea: Why not dramatically increase tuition fees for English-taught programmes, so as to actually cover the costs of the study programme, while continuing to offer much cheaper, almost free of charge, Dutch-taught programmes.

Dutch people who absolutely insist on hearing lectures in English will also have to pay more, while foreigners who are willing to learn Dutch (gezellig!) can continue to study almost for free. With the incoming funds we can improve both English and Dutch-taught programmes, and create a Campus that is still lively and colourful, and where everyone enjoys and contributes to the luxury.

Marc van Oostendorp is Professor of Dutch and Academic Communication


  1. Fulvio wrote on 9 oktober 2018 at 20:36

    I am an international living in the Netherlands since many years and currently studying at the Radboud an english thought course although I learned Dutch. I am sorry to say that the opinions expressed by prof. Marc van Oostendorp are weak and dangerously discriminatory. Instead of drastically increasing the costs for the english courses with the idea of targeting international students, why not limit the number of students that can enroll to such courses instead? Last time I checked it is not compulsory to encourage internationals into enrolling in Dutch universities. I also don´t understand how the professor can even say that universities do something to ´put a roof over their [students] head´, because they don´t. And the ´cortado´ reference is very offensive, the professor should use his academic judgement before writing such things. The only proven point in this short piece is how little some people are actually open, regardless what they think about themselves.

  2. Carlotta wrote on 9 oktober 2018 at 20:45

    Dear professor Marc van Oostendorp,
    as an international student who has just started her bachelor English-taught program at the Radboud University, here I am leaving a comment to your statement.
    Let me give you an overview of how and why I got in the Netherlands in the first place. Although what you might think, the low-costs study fees for the English (and Dutch) taught programs, are not the reason why I, and as me many other international students, came to the Netherlands. As a matter of fact, what at first attracted me the most about this country is the opened-minded mind set that the dutchies work so hard to promote. However, what is said is not always applied.
    When I first moved to the Netherlands (one year ago, before the start of my studies), I immediately started to learn the local language, since no one can really be integrated in a society if he/she does not speak the language. My effort though seems not to be welcomed by many Dutch people. As I attempt to speak Dutch, many (not all) people do not respond to me in Dutch. That is funny right? It is funny how You are scared of the disappearance of the Dutch language, and yet foreign people that try NOT to make it fade away, receive little, if not none, consideration. Moreover, many professors, unless they teach English-taught programs, deliberately ignore the fact that many internationals are present in class, speaking Dutch anyway and following and helping out only Dutch students (Work- group classes) Another point that I’d like to talk about is, indeed, housing. The fact that Universities accept many foreign students, does not mean that they actually help them with finding a place to stay. Many students (Germans, Indians, Spanish, Americans and, surprise surprise, Dutch) have several difficulties in finding a place to live in so that sometimes they are actually forced to abandon the study and get back home. So my point is, do not worry about the effort that universities put in finding housing for internationals, because it is equal 0.
    Last but not least, tuition fees, the crucial topic faced on this article. I do agree that Dutch universities, for EU students are cheap. Not cheaper than other countries, sometimes not even more expensive. The quality of education is optimal, won’t argue this point, but yet you are not quite right about the costs that are CHEAP for everyone. As a matter of fact, students that come from countries out of the EU, pay tuition fees higher than 8000 euros per year. So to answer your questions “Who’s paying for all this luxury? Who’s making sure all these people have a roof over their heads? And a cortado? Who’s footing the bill for their lecturers and their little pleasures?”, the answer is as easy as it might hurt your feelings: they are.

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