Top students from abroad boost standards, raise results (including those of Dutch students) and strengthen the international character of Dutch higher education. Over the next few years, the new scholarship programme will enable high fliers from other countries to study in the Netherlands and talented Dutch students to study abroad. Half of the cost of the scholarships will be borne by the individual educational institutions. The plans were announced in the Minister's letter outlining the government's vision on the international dimension of Dutch higher education and vocational education and training.
International experience as the norm
It is becoming increasingly important for students in higher education to acquire international and intercultural skills. International experience is already a standard requirement for many employers, so Ms Bussemaker wants to make this the norm for all students.
'International education helps students to become critical and independent thinkers who can promote change through a combination of creativity, daring and ambition,' the Minister said.
Students can acquire international experience by doing a placement or a minor subject course at an institution abroad. Being able to spend a fixed period of time abroad as part of the curriculum - the 'mobility window' - is a tremendous incentive for students to study in other countries. The Minister wants this facility to become a standard feature of every study programme.
However, international and intercultural experience does not necessarily require a trip abroad: students can also gain it by participating in international projects, attending lectures given by foreign speakers, and following intercultural skills modules at Dutch education institutions.
Secondary vocational education (MBO)
International experience is also becoming increasingly important for students in secondary vocational education. Although they are on the whole somewhat younger than their higher education peers and their course choices tend to be region-based, they too are finding that the business community is more internationally focused and that it requires different competencies now than 20 years ago. The Minister is therefore making € 5 million available from the educational excellence programme to facilitate international cooperation by secondary vocational education institutions. In addition, MBO students will be eligible for EU Erasmus scholarships, for which the budget will also be substantially increased.
Besides the extra investment announced in her letter, the Minister has said that she is planning to make it legally possible for publicly and privately funded institutions of higher education to provide transnational education. This would mean that students could follow an entire Dutch study programme abroad.