English takes over at Dutch universities

A report from Volkskrant said that more than half of Dutch university courses are now taught entirely in English.

A look at 1,632 different degree courses at the country’s 13 universities found that 60% are now in English. With master’s degrees, only 30% are taught in Dutch while three universities only offer master’s degrees in English.

The paper said that universities introduce English-language degrees in order to recruit more foreign students and reflect international nature of education in general. In addition, it is used to compete with other academic institutions.

Bastiaan Verweij of the Dutch university association VSNU: ‘We are certain that offering English education will lead to better education and more opportunities for students in the international jobs market.’

The move by Dutch universities has met with criticisms, especially among students themselves. They complain about the poor quality of the English used by lecturers.

Last year, almost 60% of students said they had experience with many lecturers who could not make themselves understandable with their English.

The newspaper also reported that it seems the bottom-line is about economics; that money is playing greater part in decisions by universities since less Dutch people are attending universities and classes had to be filled up with foreign students or face financial problem.

However, Dutch Education minister Jet Bussemaker supports English language degrees but not only for the reason of attracting more foreign students. ‘I do not want universities give lessons in English only for commercial reasons.’

The number of foreign students studying in the Netherlands rose by 20% to some 36,000 at the start of the last academic year with majority of them coming from China, Germany, Italy, Britain and Greece.