“No more internationals:” Dutch gov’t calls for cuts to new foreign students

We’ve heard it all before — the influx of international students in the Netherlands is just too much for the lowlands to keep up with.

The Dutch Minister for Education, Robbert Dijkgraaf, has called on universities and universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands to stop actively recruiting international students, reports the NOS.

More students; less housing

The sad truth is that the Netherlands faces a major housing crisis, the majority of which affects students in the Netherlands.

Earlier this year, the pressure on universities was so great that the University of Amsterdam (UvA) had to tell international students without accommodation not to come.

Dijkgraaf also points out that the major influx of students can “put pressure on the sustainability, affordability and quality of the Dutch higher education system.”

With an astounding 115,000 international students moved to the land of clogs and tulips for college in 2021 alone, we can imagine the pressure on tutors and professors to keep up.

A “complete stop”

As a result, Dijkgraaf has asked school boards and the Dutch government to stop actively recruiting new international students through grant and application systems.

However, it has been suggested that exceptions should be made for students studying courses in which there is a labour shortage. This includes healthcare, science and education.

READ MORE | More and more internationals are coming to the NL (and Dutch unis aren’t happy)

Until when? We’re not sure. Perhaps in the meantime, colleges will start to address the housing issue, including homing the current over 500+ students in UvA who are officially homeless.

What do you think of the education minister’s measures? Tell us in a comment below! 👇

Editor’s Note: an earlier version of this story wrote that the government calls for a “complete stop” on accepting new international students. Instead, the government is calling for a complete stop to actively recruiting international students.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Heather Slevin
Heather Slevin
Heather is a Dublin native, addicted to catching the Luas, the Irish version of a tram, for one stop, and well used to the constant rain and shine. Seeking to swap one concrete city for another (with a few more canals and a friendlier attitude to cyclists) here she is with the Dutch Review! As a Creative Writing student, she can usually be found sweating over the complicated formatting of her latest poem or deep inside the pages of a book, and loves writing, writing, writing.


  1. This is a Randstad problem. In the fringe regions, away from Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, the Hague, and Leiden, international students are not a burden, but an advantage. While Dutch students move away from these regions, internationals keep the populations young, vibrant, and diverse. Many colleges in these regions also offer guaranteed housing to all students. What the government has done with this move is to make a Randstad problem a national problem. And that’s simply not the case.

    • With fringe regions you mean Germany? Housing is just as terrible in Utrecht and Nijmegen and if you can get housing that probably means international students get priority over native students in those cases.

    • Universities should be more flexible in offering online courses for international students. That would put less pressure in the Dutch housing market and help students save money as well.

  2. Yes, please stop letting so many foreigners into the Netherlands to do things. I don’t want the Netherlands to lose what magic they have left I mean I plan on visiting there one day maybe maybe possibly living there, but probably not but I don’t want them to start building a lots and lots of housing and roads and destroy what makes it magical like Ireland did Ireland has been making room for all these people that’s coming over there to live and they need more and more housing and more streets to get the places that they’re destroying a lot of the areas that made Ireland Ireland and I don’t want the Dutch to do that to their country

    • This is the most ironic statment I have read. You don’t want foreignors to move there but you yourself are a foreignor that wants to move there. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

      • He/She see themselves as a different kind of ‘Foreigner’ from the ones that should be stopped, or considers Irish not to foreign to The Netherlands..😎

      • “You don’t want foreignors to move there but you yourself are a foreignor that wants to move there.”

        Yes. And?

  3. Foreign students should have out of state tuition fees, which will be higher than Dutch students. Dutch students themselves have enough difficulties finding a room. Besides, why should foreign student benefits from lower tuitions which is meant for Dutch nationals to be able to afford higher education? About time government take care of their own.

    • Hi Kasper, you don’t seem to be informed on the matter. As a Dutch citizen you can study anywhere in the EU and you will pay the normal tuition in that country. (and so that is true for any EU citizens studying in Holland).
      Non-EU citizens pay a much higher tuition.

      If universities are actively recruiting international students surely is not because they want to make the world a better place. The Dutch aren’t known for their selfless personality, if they are doing something that is benefiting others, it’s because it’s also beneficial for themselves.
      This is not criticism, just how things go – Dutch take care of themselves, so not to worry.

      I’m happy the government is taking the matter into their own hands, as universities clearly don’t give a shit.

    • You are so ill-informed. Please go to universities websites and check the fee for Local students and Non eu nationals. Its literally 10 times more. Please check and educate yourself

    • wow I thought people from developed country is well literated. today I find this is not true. they are just people, some smart and some dumb.

    • The truth is, as a international student from Non-EU country, I need to pay over 15k euros as a tuition.
      That’s a enough amount of money for a high-quality and sufficient-resources education. However, some internatinals still suffer from housing shortage. I think that’s the reason why Gov’t should reduce international students in Netherlands.

  4. Honestly this is great news. Over the past years I’ve watched education quality go down due to a crazy influx of students from all over the world. Too bad it’s not a full stop, because we could really use one. To be frank, I wouldn’t mind allowing European students, but the majority of non-european internationals I’ve worked with just couldn’t keep up. Students that come in with bachelor’s degrees from outside Europe especially seem like they have no higher education whatsoever.

    I get the idea behind starting to stimulate students from outside Europe, they could come here and pay large fees to support the educational system. Sadly they’ve shown to cost more quality than they add in fluidity, so It’s good that we’re getting rid of those stimuli.

    • On the contrary, my best students have been from China, Nigeria and India. I wonder how you recruited the international students you worked with. Two of my European students spent the full 4 years without producing meaningful results. Having EU students doesn’t offer any advantage. You need intelligent students that are properly motivated.

      • Totally agreed. Many international students have very high motivation to do their best and have high accomplishments. As a faculty member, I agree that recruiting higher quality students is important, but this applies equally to locals. Besides, universities need the money paid by international students: non-EU students are mostly the ones funding the universities as it becomes harder and harder to get funding from Dutch national science agencies. That being said, accommodation problems etc. must be handled carefully.

  5. The university managers are a bunch of hypocrites. They want to attract foreign students because it gives them more money. For this reason they started offering even bachelor courses in English. Ask yourselves: which other country would squander their language just for profit? The costs of the influx are for society: in an already tight housing market foreign students are a major strain. In higher education students are not taught in their native language anymore, foreign students don’t learn Dutch. The rift in society between the higher and lower educated only increases. To end this, all the universities have to do is stop offering their bachelor courses in English. But they don’t propose that.

    • Dutch university students have a huge advantage worldwide because of their high levels of English. They have this level because they study in English. This is actally an advantage to Dutch students as well.

      • Teaching dutch literature and history, to give an example, in English is ridiculous. The prime language should be dutch. Perhaps the exception could be STEM and medical field, but that’s it.

  6. Good decision! About time time they did that. Let them follow an education in their own country. We have to think about our own citizens first

  7. What could be very effective is to implement the system in Denmark. Basically most study courses there are given in Danish. Giving the locals the oppertunity to follow study courses in there native language (something where Dutch students do not have a oppertunity for, they have to follow courses in English). Except the study courses where there is a labour shortage, some of those are still in English. This would limit the flow of international students except in fields where its needed. The government should also make more housing and prioritize dutch students (DUO for instance priorities international students leaving a lot of Dutch students without housing even though international students choose to study here even though they can also study in their own respective home country). I’m hoping the flow of international students will go down as we are being forced into this international world where we have to hang out with expats while talking English even though we never asked for it.

  8. I understand how the Dutch must be feeling any country with a high number of outsiders takes away from the locals and impacts language and culture but as a white South African I have no choice but to send my children overseas to study as here they are a minority – targeted because of their colour – blocked from writing exams by those who feel they don’t have to pay for fees – and everytime they leave the house I fear for their safety with the high crime – I chose to remain in this country but I pray she finds her place in another where walking home is possible — and I hope this may be understood

  9. Is the housing crisis in the Netherlands cased by foreign students? If not, they should not blamed for that. They are suffering as everyone else. Our government should solve the housing crisis and not ask unis to do its job.

  10. Its time to online education with destination language, global network aiming competition on education more effective, no need student accomodations and so on. no need toefl and so on, And certificate no longer exist without experience and proven skill.

    China is the first leading country implementing the action folowed by other developing country, en example cleric level can work abroad by country coordination, no one need English or English will be the second language in many country they work. Community base fast grow, and all they need will ready amazingly.

    The decreasement caused less of birth among citizen, climate change disaster, and lgbt right in a country will help to fasten reduce number of citizen, so it will be an opportunity other citizen to apply work anywhere, instead study in their country.

  11. It is a little country compared to others. Housing, energy supply, fluidity etc is not the same for big countries as in little ones. Some places even pay for you to go while others have housing issues. US for example owns a lot of universities with much more students and housing for students is not a problem as it is for Holland. Each territory has its unique issues. Lets see how it ends

  12. Misschien kappen met het aantal AirBNBs in NL (zoals in Amsterdam, waar de helft van deze AirBNBs word bezit door de neef van de Willem-Alexander).

    Ik ben 4e jaars student en studeer nu in Finland door uitwisselings mogelijkheid. Dat is iets moois en moet vooral mogelijk blijven. De kans om jezelf te verrijken door te leren van groepen mensen buiten je comfortzone is een ongelooflijke ervaring die veel waarde opbrengt op de arbeidsmarkt.

    Kortzichtig gelul over “buitenlanders” die onze woningen opmaken is bullshit. Het probleem ligt bij de huisjesmelkers en de overheid die het onmogelijk maakt voor starters en studenten om een woning te vinden.

    De woningnood is niet de schuld van een kleine groep buitenlanders, maar een resultaat van constant mismanagement door o.a. kabinet Rutte.

  13. Why do so many foreigners yearn for a Dutch education? Why not study in their country of birth? What is so attractive in an overcrowded foreign country?

  14. Universities should be more flexible in offering online courses for international students. That would put less pressure in the Dutch housing market and help students save money as well.

  15. Dear, I am Habtamu from Ethiopia who have given conditional offer by UT, with out living cost. How can I manage my living cost there?


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