Internationalisation is crucial to a good university
In the future, we will all reach the age of 100, and preferably be healthy when we get there. We will use an incredible amount of smart technology, while our privacy remains protected. Nobody will live below the poverty line, our feet will be dry and our air clean, our living environment will be safe and there will be enough food for everyone. Academic research and education at universities aims to contribute to these goals. This requires students with an international focus and research that contributes to solutions to international issues, which means that internationalisation is essential to a good university.
International collaboration is crucial in research, because we can take on larger research projects together and assemble teams of the best talents from across the globe. Take, for example, the recent 'photo' of a black hole. Dutch researchers had a leading role in the international team that made that photo possible. The Netherlands collaborates with other countries extensively in its research.
Dutch researchers publish research with colleagues from all over the world. This map shows that they collaborate with researchers from the United States and the European Union the most. Emerging economies are also becoming increasingly important in scientific collaboration.
In terms of research, Dutch universities are considered some of the best in the world. That is important, because this research contributes to solutions to social issues and to Dutch innovation. The importance of maintaining these rankings must be seen in the context of geopolitics. The balance between Europe, the United States and Asia is shifting. The largest technology companies are in other parts of the world.
Asian universities are racing up the rankings, and Chinese businesses, authorities and universities are investing large amounts of money in research and development (R&D). As a result, we cannot assume that the solutions for the next generation will come from European minds. If Dutch universities want to remain at the top, we need to appeal to top international researchers. They will only come here if we can create an excellent research environment.
European programmes are great for research in Dutch universities. European programmes have made it easier for researchers and organisations to collaborate across borders. The Netherlands performs well in Horizon Europe's research programmes, such as in the European Research Council (ERC). For every euro the Netherlands invests in research and innovation in Brussels, we get 1.5 euros back. By now, European funds have become more important than our national government's funding for research and innovation.
Students from all over the world come to Dutch universities to study, and Dutch students go on exchange to foreign universities as well. As a result, Dutch students make international friendships while studying, learn what daily life is like in other countries and learn a foreign language.
This international experience is great, including for Dutch students, because wherever those students start working later, whether as doctors in hospitals, at logistics companies or as freelancers, international experience is essential. Being able to understand your patients, colleagues and clients is a necessity.
Furthermore, many social issues that these students will help solve in the future will be international in nature. For example, we want the next generation to be safe from floods, live in a safe country and have sufficient food. These international issues require an international focus.
International students are a lucrative market. The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis has estimated that foreign students who come to study in the Netherlands contribute more to the Dutch economy than they cost. A foreign student from a European country generates between 5 and 17 thousand euros, and a student from outside Europe generates 69 to 94 thousand euros.
The European Union's Erasmus+ programme stimulates student exchanges between European universities. This makes it easy for students to spend a period studying abroad. At the same time, students coming here contribute to an international classroom in Dutch universities. That way, the programme also contributes to the study experiences of students who remain in the Netherlands. The universities and student organisations have called for the European Commission to further bolster the programme, to allow even more students to make use of the programme in the future.
International students contribute to an ambitious study environment. Compared with Dutch students, they are more likely to obtain their degree within the set term. More than half of all international students complete their Bachelor's within three years. Universities are looking for international students who fit in with Dutch students in terms of quality and who help to improve the quality of education. This graph shows that 78% of foreign students have obtained a degree after four years.