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Dutch Minister of Ed plots “new phase” of internationalisation

A “new phase” of education policy in the Netherlands calling for the “mainstreaming of internationalisation” has been introduced by Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker. In a letter to parliament Bussmaker outlined plans to establish a €5 million a year scholarship scheme, improve talent retention and facilitate transnational education.

“Indbound mobility can have a net positive effect of approximately €740 million"

Encouraging outbound mobility among VET students and engaging alumni organisations were also high among the minister’s priorities.

The newly-launched scholarship scheme will enable inbound and outbound mobility for approximately 10,000 students over the next 10 years with half of total funding coming from Dutch institutions.

The newly launched scholarship scheme will enable inbound and outbound mobility for approximately 10,000 students over the next 10 years

“A notable scholarship programme would serve to strengthen the profile of Dutch higher education, highlighting the country’s attractive educational climate worldwide,” she commented.

With as many as 70% of students saying they would like to stay in the Netherlands but only an estimated 27% actually doing so, the minister also said “there is scope for improvement” when it comes to talent retention.

“Inbound mobility can have a net positive effect of approximately €740 million,” she said. “In other words, retaining international talent in the Netherlands strengthens Dutch education and the Dutch knowledge economy alike.”

And to support outbound mobility that won’t delay students’ studies, Bussemaker aims to have a “mobility window”– a fixed period in the curriculum for short-term studies abroad– integrated into all study programmes.

In her letter she acknowledged the “added value” translational education brings to higher education institutions and promised to “eliminate obstacles in current laws and regulations” to setting up joint and double degree programmes.

“I will also identify the institutions which will be allowed to offer fully fledged study programmes abroad,” she wrote. “The point of departure in this respect is that only institutions and study programmes whose quality is beyond all doubt can be given such permission.”

She also plans to build on the country’s established reputation abroad for VET provision by increasing mobility among VET institutions through a proposed €4.5 million subsidiary for foreign study programmes and calls for the creation a European level interchangeable credit system.

“VET students like all other will have to be prepared for a dynamic labour market which is no longer confided to the Netherlands”

“The scale of global exchange in VET has thus far been very limited,” she argued adding that “more than ever international orientation should become an integral part of training” especially in agri-food, carting and tourism, trade and economic and financial services sectors.

“VET students like all other will have to be prepared for a dynamic labour market which is no longer confided to the Netherlands,” she said.

Promoting the country as a study destination across all agencies- government, industry and education- is central to Bussemaker’s goals. In addition to supporting Nuffic’s “Make it in the Netherlands!” promotion campaign, she also calls on the organisations to “step up” efforts to engage with alumni networks.

Bussemaker promised further detail of her blueprint later this year but said the motivation for the letter was to call VET and higher education institutions to action.

“There is no lack of ambition in the education sector when it comes to internationalisation,” she wrote. “This is why I thought it would be appropriate to challenge the sector to draw up and present a detailed vision on internationalisation.”

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