The survey questionnaire was completed by a total of 1,330 students and members of staff at the universities of Groningen, Utrecht, Nijmegen, Delft, Wageningen and Twente. More than 70 per cent said they felt welcome when they arrived in the Netherlands, but only 55 per cent said they still feel that way. The number of survey participants who felt unwanted had risen from 16.5 per cent who felt that way on arrival to 25 per cent who felt that way now.

Almost half of the participants blamed the increasingly negative political debate in the Netherlands about international arrivals. Around 30 per cent said that the current internationalisation debate was reason for them to consider leaving the Netherlands.

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A German researcher at Utrecht University’s Faculty of Humanities was quoted in DUB as being ‘shocked how in the past five years since I arrived the discourse has changed from a rather ideological endorsement of internationalisation, as if it was a goal in itself, to a similarly ideological rejection of internationalisation, as if it was the source of all social problems, from the housing crisis to work pressure at universities’.

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Not everyone is equally pessimistic. A Canadian assistant professor told Groningen’s UKrant, which took the initiative for the survey, that leaving was the furthest thing from her mind: “I’m being optimistic that the discussion about internationals is a temporary thing, that people will get used to the increase of English speakers and that the housing crisis will be solved. Also, the university community is very open to us. So there is enough for us to stay.”

Dutch voters will go to the polls on Wednesday, 22 November. Parties on the right of the political spectrum in particular have plans to scale back the internationalisation of higher education and research significantly.

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