02/08/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/08/2024 00:50
A response to the latest developments on internationalisation.
"As TU/e, we remain committed to our international character and we are proud of our international community," says President of the Executive Board Robert-Jan Smits in response to the latest developments regarding the internationalization of higher education. "International talent is and remains hugely important for both the university and the region."
Smits: "We have great difficulty with the idea of measures being introduced that reduce the international character of universities. Due to demographic developments, the Dutch intake is decreasing and the number of students choosing engineering remains low, but the need for highly educated engineers is only increasing. So, we desperately need international talent. But we understand that The Hague is asking for measures because internationalization is having strong undesirable effects in certain areas."
Today, Dutch universities and the umbrella organization UNL are therefore presenting a guideline of measures to meet that wish of The Hague. Among other ways, this wish was expressed in a widely supported parliamentary motion last month urging a reduction in the proportion of English-language programs - taking into account sectors with shortages. As a result, the guideline explicitly allows space for sectors with shortages and regional interests "so as to not throw the baby out with the bathwater." This is expected to leave TU/e with the opportunity for further growth.
Smits is positive about the guideline. "It has become a balanced package. It's good that it's not a straitjacket with generic measures. The package takes into account sectors with shortages and the consequences for the regional economy in several ways. In doing so, it provides space to continue doing our programs in English, which is very important to a sufficient intake, although we have yet to see the exact content of the eventual Balanced Internationalization Act."
The President of the Executive Board assumes that some of the measures in the package will indeed be taken up at TU/e. "For example, we are going to work on increasing the stay rate of our international graduates - which is already the highest in the Netherlands - even further. In the coming period, we are going to draw up the plans for our interpretation of the guideline in cooperation with TU/e's university council."
A related development is that last Tuesday, the national Education Council issued an opinion on Minister Dijkgraaf's draft Balanced Internationalization Act (WIB, Wet Internationalisering in Balans). The council is highly critical of the proposed legislation. According to the Education Council, the plan has not been elaborated well enough and the consequences for education, the economy and society have not been properly identified. The minister is now expected to adapt the act and submit it to the Council of State for advice. Following this, the act will go to parliament. With that, it seems to be some time before the measures from The Hague are concrete.