Reducing "excessive internationalization" at Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences is a top priority for candidate Education Minister Eppo Bruins, he stated during his hearing in

the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, on Thursday. The large number of international students places "enormous pressure on the system, on lecturers, and on the national budget," he said, according to NU.nl’s live blog on the hearings.

Eppo Bruins, formerly a ChristenUnie parliamentarian, will serve as the Minister of Education, Culture, and Science for the NSC in the Schoof I Cabinet.

Outgoing Education Minister Robberd Dijkgraaf has already submitted a bill to limit the number of international students at Dutch higher education institutions. This bill includes stricter requirements for offering courses in English and permits universities to limit the number of students they enroll in certain degrees.

Bruins mentioned that Dijkgraaf’s Internationalization in Balance Act will form the "basis" of his plans. "But I will go through it with a fine-tooth comb. Because I also want to make sure it doesn’t break anything," he said. For instance, he wants to ensure that shortage sectors requiring international students "are placed in a somewhat more flexible regime."

The new Minister is committed to enforcing the part of the bill that limits English-language courses. "Because Dutch as a language in education is one of the few levers we can pull." Most non-Dutch students in the Netherlands come from the European Union, and EU regulations require that they be treated the same as local students.

According to the coalition agreement of the PVV, VVD, NSC, and BBB, the new government aims to save 293 million euros per year by making the Netherlands less attractive to international students. "I have to adhere to this framework," Bruins said. Once he takes office, he will explore additional measures to limit the influx of international students. Photo by Remco van de Pol, Wikimedia commons.