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120,000 new student beds needed if Dutch targets met

Tens of thousands of extra jobs could be created in Dutch cities through internationalisation and collaboration between universities, city councils and student housing providers, a report by the Class of 2020 has revealed. However, insufficient international student accommodation remains a stumbling block, with an estimated 124,087 new rooms needed to meet growing demand.

20,000 extra rooms are needed in Amsterdam to meet demand, if international student numbers triple by 2030. Photo: Pixabay

The development could result in an increase of €3.3 billion in GDP and €1.2 in extra infrastructure investments

Using figures from Nuffic, ABF and StudentMarketing, the report compared internationalisation in 13 Dutch university cities to other European cities and calculated the effects of a tripling of the number of international students in the Netherlands up to 2030.

“Internationalising education and attracting international students is a way to improve the quality of education”

The report found that such a development could result in an increase of € 3.3 billion in GDP and € 1.2 in extra infrastructure investments.

It also calculated the gain created by the arrival of additional international students to Dutch cities, forecasting that Amsterdam and Maastricht could make €475 and €473 million profit per annum respectively.

But in order to achieve this, the report warns, international students need to be offered enough quality accommodation.

In 2017, the growing international student numbers brought the insufficient accommodation infrastructure in some Dutch cities to the fore.

Some international students had to resort to staying in a campsite in Utrecht or a refugee centre in Groningen, that was re-opened to help ease the student housing shortage.

According to the Class of 2020 report, almost 20,000 extra rooms would be needed to meet growing demand in Amsterdam and Maastricht respectively over the coming years, and a further 15,000 rooms in Groningen.

Dutch institutions are continuing to attract more talent inside Europe thanks to high rankings, a growing number of English-language programs and job market opportunities.

However, some cities, including Maastricht (47%), Wageningen (24%), and The Hague (20%) were shown in the report to be significantly more successful in attracting talent than, for example, Leiden (7%), Utrecht (6%) and Tilburg (5%).

Recent Nuffic figures show that there are 122,000 international students in the Netherlands for the 2017/2018 academic year, and the ever-increasing numbers have been called a “worrying trend” by Dutch student union LSVb.

“Universities do everything they can to attract as many international students as possible, but do not take the consequences into account. We call on the universities to take a step back and reflect on their strategy”, the union said in a press release.

However, Freddy Weima, director-general of Nuffic said internationalising education and attracting international students is a way to improve the quality of education.

“The knowledge, experience and networks that international students bring from their own countries enable us to strengthen the quality of education in the Netherlands and allow all students to benefit from a diverse international classroom,” he added.

The number of international students at Dutch universities has been a topic of hot debate recently, with headlines talking of a “domination” of some courses, and university figures taking to the pages of newspapers to debate how many courses should be taught in English.

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