A moderate population growth to about 20 million people can make the Netherlands stronger, is the message conveyed by the Staatscommissie Demografische Ontwikkelingen 2050 (Government Committee on Demographic Developments 2050), which presented its report on Monday.

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The committee was established at the end of 2022, before the cabinet had fallen. In the meantime, PVV has become the largest party in the House of Representatives and NSC is in a key position with respect to the forming of a new government. These winners of the elections want to curb migration.

In this context, they are also eyeing study migration suspiciously. They believe there are too many international students coming to the Netherlands. They are considering having Bachelor’s programmes taught in Dutch again, possibly with an exception for universities of technology.


But according to the committee, there are no financial arguments that support this. “Student migrants involve more benefits than expenses for the state budget”, says the report. This applies to all higher education students from Europe and further afield. Even if you factor in the costs of social security, healthcare and general facilities, the balance remains positive. After all, a portion of students will stay here to work and the fact of the matter is that the higher educated pay more taxes.

The increasing internationalisation of higher education does put pressure on solidarity amongst students from the Netherlands and abroad, the report reads. International students occupy seats on programmes and make use of the scarce housing available in student cities. The committee also points to study spots on campus and student healthcare. “This raises questions about how all of this impacts opportunities for Dutch nationals to use these facilities.”

Equal opportunity already is an important topic within education, if only because of the increasing teacher shortage. There’s a risk that rich families will start purchasing their own education, further increasing inequality. “Children’s opportunities are not merely determined by their individual talent and effort”, the committee states.

Social and robust

The committee doesn’t offer any direct solutions. Above all, the government should make “social and robust choices”, they say. To promote social cohesion, the government should keep an eye on the gap between the higher educated and the rest of the Netherlands. Equal access to such facilities as healthcare and education is of major importance for “social solidarity”, the committee believes. The gap between young and old, for instance in the housing market, is deserving of attention as well.