Court rules that English classes will continue being taught in Dutch universities

Good news for all internationals, as the court rules that English classes will continue being taught in Dutch universities. Here is the final verdict. 

The problem with English classes being taught at Dutch universities

The problem initially began when universities in the Netherlands called for a cap on courses being taught in English. This was to ensure that Dutch would still dominate the curriculum. The aim of this proposal was also to reduce the number of international students within the Netherlands. Because of the great appeal Dutch universities have for international students, many feared this is not fair for Dutch students. Another issue was that because there were so many English-taught courses, that the standard of English was in fact slipping. Many students were complaining that they could not understand what the teacher was saying when teaching classes in English.

However, Dutch Minister of education Van Engelshoven did not approve of this proposal. Van Engelshoven declared that she does not see a need to stop the use of English in some programs. She further highlighted the importance of foreign students in the Dutch educational system, as well as the added value to internationalization. This, however, did not settle the issue, and so the matter was taken to court.

The court’s decision on this university issue in the Netherlands

The Society of Better Education in the Netherlands (Beter Onderwijs Nederland) filed an appeal in court. In it, the organization was accusing Maastricht University and the University of Twente of offering their Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in both Dutch and English. The association argued that Dutch students suffer from this and that the quality of education would deteriorate. Dutch students would also get more competition from foreign students when they are admitted to a study program or a university.

However, the provisional judge has ruled that the two universities do not violate the law. This means that Maastricht University and the University of Twente can also offer their Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in English. According to the judge, the universities have made it clear why they offer the degree (also) in English, so there is no legitimate reason for its termination.

Reasons for the concern with English classes being taught in Dutch universities

The Society of Better Education in the Netherlands however is not happy with this verdict and has given multiple reasons as to why classes shouldn’t be taught also in English. According to their organization, this puts Dutch students at a disadvantage. They argue that Dutch students would not be able to express themselves as well in English as in Dutch.

At the moment, 23 percent of the Bachelor’s programs and 74 percent of master’s programs at Dutch universities are entirely in English. Furthermore, Dutch students are becoming a minority within lecture halls, as this academic year has had more than 75,000 international students.


Personal thoughts

If you get easily offended or feel very nationalistic regarding this issue, please don’t read the following section. This is my personal opinion, and while I understand it might not make some people happy, I am still allowed to have one. So here’s my two cents.

As a foreigner who has recently graduated from a Dutch university I cannot help but feel slightly hurt by this whole dilemma. While I do understand that Dutch people want to preserve their nationality and ensure that there are enough positions for their students at Dutch universities, the arguments are just…well, senseless.

Dutch students would not be able to express themselves as well in English as in Dutch? But what about all the other international students? Just because a student is not Dutch, it does not mean that English is their first language. We’ve spent years working on our English skills just so that our proficiency will one day be good enough to get accepted into an English program and join an international community. If Dutch students want to be on the same level as other internationals, then they should take on the challenge of possibly studying in English (because there is still the option of studying in Dutch).

Not to mention that internationalization is a beautiful thing, so please do not shy away from it my dearest Dutchies! Spread the love!

Are you happy that English classes will continue being taught in Dutch universities? What is your opinion on this entire issue? Let us know in the comments below!

Veronika Licheva
Living the short girl life in the land of giants. Veronika is a content creator who takes great interest in video, photography, and journalism. Her mission in The Netherlands is to build a vibrant and exciting career, while simultaneously petting as many dogs as possible.



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