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Dutch Internationalisation “gains pace”

A growing number of Dutch students are gaining international experience through learning languages, taking part in an exchange abroad or using an international curriculum, a new Nuffic report has revealed. But teachers and lecturers are, on average, slower to embrace internationalisation.

More Dutch students are gaining international experience through learning languages, taking part in an exchange abroad or using an international curriculum. Photo: Nuffic

Almost 40% of all secondary schools provide some form of internationalisation

According to the findings of the Focus on Internationalisation report, pupils and students in all sectors of education acquire international experience in a wide variety of ways.

“Teachers and lecturers…make very limited use of the opportunities they are offered for going abroad”

In primary education, the report explains, the emphasis is on learning a foreign language and global citizenship as some 1,250 primary schools offer English from year one.

In secondary education, almost 40% of all schools provide some form of internationalisation through increased foreign language learning, focusing on international curriculums or exchanges for pupils and teachers.

Meanwhile “in schools with an international curriculum, pupils work with other countries, which enables them to see subject content from a different perspective,” the report suggests.

“As a result, pupils not only do better in a foreign language but they also acquire international skills.”

According to the report’s findings, 7% of students in senior secondary vocational education go abroad to study or to undertake a work placement. The figure for higher education is slightly higher at 25%.

However, far fewer students choose to study in full at an international research university or university of applied sciences only 2%, compared with a European average of 3%.

According to the analysis, coordination with secondary education could be better as pupils who started learning English early on in primary school, for example, enter secondary education at the same level as other pupils.

Additionally teachers and lecturers play a key role in developing the international skills of pupils and students, but on average, the report concludes, they are slower to embrace internationalisation than pupils and students.

“Teachers and lecturers, for example, make very limited use of the opportunities they are offered for going abroad. The same applies to students on teacher training courses, who are the teachers of the future,” it reads.

“Gaining international experience at school and university is crucial for pupils and students if they are to hold their own on the jobs market and in society as a whole.

“If [students] have international skills, they will be better able to engage with other cultures and they will understand their own culture better.”

The report emphasises that internationalisation has a broader impact: “It can help strengthen our knowledge economy, align education more closely with the jobs market and enable more effective collaboration with other countries at a political, social and economic level.”

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