The Executive Board of University College Roosevelt (UCR) has been following the debate on internationalization in higher education in the Dutch House of Representatives very closely. UCR is particularly concerned about the statements made by Minister Dijkgraaf on Thursday 15 June 2023. Other Dutch universities have also expressed their concerns. These concerns are about the measures stated by the Minister regarding the main language of our academic program and the consequences these measures could have for our staff members, students, and ultimately for the quality of our teaching.
On the point of internationalization, UCR is categorical in our position: we are proud of our international community. We value it. Internationalization is crucial for UCR as it cultivates a globally aware and culturally sensitive learning environment, enriches the academic experience, provides transformative experiential opportunities, and strengthens the college’s reputation. Our college embraces internationalization by offering a diverse range of subjects that encompass global perspectives, including courses on comparative literature, international politics, anthropology, global health, environmental studies, and intercultural communication, among others. Within our diverse community of independent thinkers (students and colleagues alike), each with their own background, experiences, and world views, we can stimulate debate, critical thinking, innovation and creative solutions to global problems. Specifically, UCR prepares students to become responsible global citizens who can navigate the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly interconnected world. Tapping into a truly international community provides us with access to the best students and educators.
Naturally, we recognize the importance of monitoring the size of the international influx of students. We also know of the challenges and bottlenecks faced by various universities and student cities across the Netherlands. And we will support a balanced set of measures and tools. But we are also of the view that not all universities and colleges have the same problems. In our own region (Zeeland), for instance, we offer guaranteed housing for international students, classes are taught in a way that stimulates interaction, debate and critical thinking. Embracing the international classroom is who we are.
The announced measures by Minister Dijkgraaf uses language and a ban on international recruitment as instruments to reduce international students. This is harmful to our college, our ethos, and our way of teaching; and it impairs our ability to contribute to the knowledge economy of our region.
Our message to international students considering UCR as their university college of choice is: you are wanted here, you are needed here, and you are welcome here.
Prof. dr. Edward Nieuwenhuis, Dean
Etienne de Jager, MD