Responses to government’s Balanced Internationalization bill
Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) has responded to the government’s Balanced Internationalization bill. While UNL is satisfied with the control instruments included in the bill, it is deeply concerned about the feasibility of a number of the proposed measures, such as the language measures. It is also deeply concerned about the proposed and far-reaching interventions in the universities’ autonomy.
Tilburg University’s response
Tilburg University endorses UNL’s response to the bill and has actively contributed to it. In our own response, we as an institution address a number of specific points we would like to explicitly draw attention to in the context of this legislative procedure. As a university, we issue this response as a warning that in seeking short-term solutions we do not take wrong decisions together that will in the long term adversely affect Dutch society as a whole. We must do now what needs to be done to tackle a number of clear problems, but we must always do so with the long-term agenda for the Netherlands in mind. The bill as it now stands causes collateral damage whose long-term consequences will be detrimental to the country as a whole. The proposed legislation ignores the interconnectedness of academic education and research. Research is international and English its lingua franca. The bill consequently harms the appeal the Netherlands currently has for international scientists, and this in turn harms the quality of education and research. Given that our academic staff is largely English-speaking, there should be more scope to offer English-taught education. Our response also addresses several other fundamental issues regarding curriculum autonomy, more scope for sector self-regulation, offering clarity in law, not in supplementary arrangements, giving greater priority to the socio-economic agenda and educational needs, and the funding model.
Far from being blind to the challenges posed by the rapid growth of the number of international students, Tilburg University aims for a balanced student body composition, one that allows us to grow in meaning and to further prioritize the Dutch language proficiency of our students. Moreover, it is our constant task to review our program portfolio against our mission and to critically examine whether it continues to align with scientific developments and society’s needs. In the coming years, and provided the time and room given suffice, Tilburg University will be seeking to implement well-considered, careful changes in its program portfolio and its curriculum, including the English-taught components. We call on politicians to give us the trust, room, and time to do this carefully and with sufficient consideration for the long-term agenda of the Netherlands.
- September 15: online consultation closed
- Mid-September through late October: internal procedure at the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science
- Early November: bill (expected to be) sent to Council of State
- December 2023, January 2024 (depending on when Council of State gives its advice): bill sent to House of Representatives
- House of Representatives decides whether the bill is considered controversial until a new government has taken office
- Internationalization may be up for discussion at the government formation table.
Previous press releases
- November 23, 2023: Knowledge coalition: guard position Netherlands as knowledge country | NWO
- November 22, 2023: Jouke de Vries, interim-chair Universiteiten van Nederland: Politiek gooit ruiten van universiteiten in | Trouw (in Dutch)
- September 4, 2023: Interview with Wim van de Donk about internationalization | Univers (in Dutch)
- July 18, 2023: Internationalization bill and online consultation | Tilburg University
- July 13, 2023: Boudewijn Haverkort about internationalization: “The government’s interference in university affairs is excessive” | Univers (in Dutch)
- June 21, 2023: Tilburg University responds to Parliamentary debate on internationalization | Tilburg University
- April 25, 2023: Response to Minister Dijkgraaf’s letter of Parliament on internationalization | Tilburg University
- January 19, 2023: Recruitment of international students on hold: now what? “This is short-term panic | Tilburg e.o. | bd.nl (in Dutch, account required)
- December 6, 2022: Opinion | House of Representatives too rough on international students | NRC (in Dutch)