A numerus fixus for English-language programs should reduce the influx of internationals. Sofie, a Dutch student of Economics and Philosophy reacts: “It’s also kind of weird that some programs are no longer offered in Dutch at all. So I can understand it a little bit.” Levi, a Dutch Sociology student disagrees. “I don’t understand it at all. Surely it’s useful to be able to learn proper English! Why limit yourself to Dutch?”

Among international students, the topic is very much alive. “We were just talking about it”, says Jack, an international student doing Economics and Business Economics (IBEB). My friends are taking the new measures very personally. They are quite angry. But for me, it doesn’t bother me so much.” Still, Jack does see a change in the attitude of Dutch people around him. “There is a tendency. You feel you might not be as welcome here anymore. It’s kind of a vibe.” Jack says he sometimes gets scolded while going out. “People are drunk then and don’t really think straight.”

Indonesian Psychology student Raya also notices it around her. At the restaurant where she works, a customer has also gone on a rant against her. “She ordered in Dutch. I could understand that, but when I answered back in English she got angry and kicked up a scene”, Raya says. “I’m afraid it will get much worse if this law is changed. Many of my friends with a gap year are hesitating to come back to the Netherlands now that the policy is becoming so much stricter.”

“The narrative about international students is changing”, also says Kinshuk, international student IBEB. He also finds the anti-internationalisation tendencies in the Netherlands surprising: “I think the sentiment among students is very different from the sentiment in Parliament.”

Still, the internationals can also understand to some extent where the drive to Dutchify universities comes from. Jack: “I understand that you want to educate your own students in your own language.” Kinshuk also understands that the government wants to make room for Dutch students: “There are two sides of the story, and I happen to be on the other side.”


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