UAF argues with minister about language requirements for doctors

Foundation for Refugee Students UAF and outgoing minister Klink of Health, Welfare and Sport, disagree on the language requirements for foreign doctors. UAF maintains that refugee doctors hardly have a fair chance to find jobs anymore.

Last month, UAF indicated that fewer refugee doctors were able to obtain the degree of Doctor of Medicine due to the stricter language requirements since 2005. From then on, refugee doctors have had to demonstrate that their command of Dutch is up to that of the sixth grade of secondary school in order to get their degree. This really is too advanced a level for many of the refugee doctors from countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not very wise in view of the shortage of doctors the Netherlands is heading for, says Kees Bleichrodt, Director of UAF. Doctors from war countries often struggle with the Dutch language but they are very good at their profession.  “As they have already been trained in their home countries they are the cheapest doctors we will be able to train.”

Outgoing minster Klink of Health, Welfare and Sport, in his response to parliamentary questions, said the number of international doctors failing the language tests is relatively low. “An independent quick scan indicates that fewer international students fail the assessment procedures than did with the procedures before 2005.”

According to a UAF spokesperson, however, the figures are incorrectly represented. “The figures only refer to students who have actually carried out the tests. The stricter language requirements have now stopped refugees from outside the EU from even trying to pass the tests.”

This would explain why fewer refugee doctors in training have started working at Dutch hospitals since 2005. According to Klink though, this is “the result of a strongly reduced influx of immigrants into the Netherlands in general”.