International students should not be regarded as a product

The amount of international students at Utrecht University has increased a lot over the past few years and the university is promoting itself abroad to attract even more students. We think students from abroad enrich the scientific community and students from all over the world should certainly be permitted to study at our university. However, we are critical about the motivation behind this encouragement to actively attract students from abroad. There are reasons other than the romantic picture of exchanging cultures to attract international students for Dutch universities. Financially we profit a lot more from international students (especially non-EEA) compared to Dutch students  ).

Unlike for Dutch students, international students pay their tuition fee, the full contribution for their education, directly to the university. Here you can see what they pay:. Dutch students only have to pay a small amount of tuition fee. The contribution universities receive form the government is the more substantial part of the financing of education. But universities do not get the same contribution from the government per student every year. The total budget for the universities is divided over the universities relative to the amount of students, but over the years the budget per student has decreased a lot unfortunately. The contribution per student from the government for education (which is less than half of this contribution) is certainly below the fee an international student would have to pay.

This is the less romantic explanation for why universities are promoting themselves abroad. They “invest” actually quite some money in that. But attracting so many international students comes with a responsibility in our opinion and a lot of things are still badly arranged for international students at Utrecht University right now. They can't do a free course in Dutch for example. It is even more difficult to get a room as an international student because they are discriminated against at “hospiteeravonden” and they get scammed very often in the Netherlands (and

Most official documents are not translated to English and in particular this makes it hard for internationals to participate as a student representative. There is no clear policy on whether all information should be available in English or not. The university can't help it that the government is not supportive enough concerning education, but they should not make the internationals pay the price for that. Especially since the university does not provide the support they deserve.

Another complicated aspect of dogmatically attracting international students is that a lot of programs and courses have been forced to switch to English. We do not claim that this is a good or bad phenomenon in general because it comes with pros and cons for every program. We just think that financial profit should not be the reason for making this impactful change to education and it should not be imposed from above. In our opinion, the educational committees (including teachers and students) should consider the consequences and decide on this matter.