Study financing for internationals

Nieuws | de redactie
22 november 2011 | 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 oftheir study financing with great vigor. The guarantee of receivingover €260 on a monthly basis if you do not live at home is a rightnobody is willing to give up without a fight. Another present theDutch government has in stock for its young talents is the OV chipcard offering free transportation during the week or weekends.

For now, the cabinet of Dutch Prime Minister Rutte has no plansto change this study subsidy. What is more, under certainconditions even international students may benefit from thisgovernment support following the legislation of Wet studiefinancierung 2000. All students withcitizenship of an EU member state, Switzerland, Norway,Liechtenstein or Iceland are entitled to receive study financing ifthey work part-time next to their studies for at least 32 hours amonth.

To some, it seems bizarre to let international students receivethese benefits in the first place given that there is no guaranteethey will stay in the country and contribute to the nationaleconomy. To others, it is even more bizarre to push foreignstudents into part-time jobs.

Study benefits to foster internationalcompetiveness

A similar schizophrenic system has existed in Australia for awhile. All students with national citizenship were entitled to freetransportation. Over time, this right was extended to internationalstudents in all Australian states but two, namely New South Walesand Victoria.

The Australian government has now pressured policymakers from these two states to follow suit andestablish transportation benefits to foreign students as well. Thiswould be very beneficial to project “a unified ‘Brand Australia'”into the world further fostering the country’s competitiveness inthe global market for international higher education.

“We would be in a much stronger position internationally if wecould market the fact that all international students coming toAustralia were eligible to access concessional public transportwhile studying here,” commented the spokesperson of Australia’sMinister for Tertiary Education, Chris Evans.

Time and time again Australia scores among the top ranksattracting the most overseas students. Research by the prominent auditing andconsulting firm has shown that this adds around $16,5 billion(EUROS ) to the Australian economy on a yearly basis. Pushing forgreater internationalization by offering benefits and lessbureaucratic visa requirements, Australian policymakers try tofoster its higher education sector with income from foreignstudents.

Is this the way forward for the Netherlands as well? Offeringstudy financing to European students was definitely in the spiritof international treaties that require an equal treatment of Dutchand European students.  But universities cannot use thisargument to strengthen the “Brand Netherlands” as it is highlyconditional. Will the Dutch government continue this interimsolution indefinitely? Or will it chip in more money expandingbenefits to all students to attract international talent?

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