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  • Study financing for internationals

    - The Dutch government supports some of its international students with study financing. From this offer, however, only a few can benefit as it comes with conditions. Internationalization champion Australia now shows how to actively attract foreign talent with incentives.

    Students in the Netherlands have been fighting the scrapping of their study financing with great vigor. The guarantee of receiving over €260 on a monthly basis if you do not live at home is a right nobody is willing to give up without a fight. Another present the Dutch government has in stock for its young talents is the OV chip card offering free transportation during the week or weekends.

    For now, the cabinet of Dutch Prime Minister Rutte has no plans to change this study subsidy. What is more, under certain conditions even international students may benefit from this government support following the legislation of Wet studiefinancierung 2000. All students with citizenship of an EU member state, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland are entitled to receive study financing if they work part-time next to their studies for at least 32 hours a month.

    To some, it seems bizarre to let international students receive these benefits in the first place given that there is no guarantee they will stay in the country and contribute to the national economy. To others, it is even more bizarre to push foreign students into part-time jobs.

    Study benefits to foster international competiveness

    A similar schizophrenic system has existed in Australia for a while. All students with national citizenship were entitled to free transportation. Over time, this right was extended to international students in all Australian states but two, namely New South Wales and Victoria.

    The Australian government has now pressured policymakers from these two states to follow suit and establish transportation benefits to foreign students as well. This would be very beneficial to project "a unified 'Brand Australia'" into the world further fostering the country's competitiveness in the global market for international higher education.

    "We would be in a much stronger position internationally if we could market the fact that all international students coming to Australia were eligible to access concessional public transport while studying here," commented the spokesperson of Australia's Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Evans.

    Time and time again Australia scores among the top ranks attracting the most overseas students. Research by the prominent auditing and consulting firm has shown that this adds around $16,5 billion (EUROS ) to the Australian economy on a yearly basis. Pushing for greater internationalization by offering benefits and less bureaucratic visa requirements, Australian policymakers try to foster its higher education sector with income from foreign students.

    Is this the way forward for the Netherlands as well? Offering study financing to European students was definitely in the spirit of international treaties that require an equal treatment of Dutch and European students.  But universities cannot use this argument to strengthen the "Brand Netherlands" as it is highly conditional. Will the Dutch government continue this interim solution indefinitely? Or will it chip in more money expanding benefits to all students to attract international talent?