Although this week the US and the UK reported
that their numbers of foreign students were increasing again, the Dutch Immigration Office says that the number of granted student visas has decreased from 8800 in 2002 to 5900 in 2004.
Part of this decrease is due to the EU enlargement since students from Central and Eastern Europe don’t have to report to the Immigration Office anymore. The number of students from China and Morocco decreased by one third while for some other countries like South Africa, Iran and Ghana the number decreased by 50%.
(the Netherlands organization for international cooperation in higher education) claims that getting a visa can take up to 8 months. In addition, the visas are amongst the most expensive in Europe. The Dutch Association of Universities
wants the regulations to become more flexible: “if we continue like this, the flow of students and researchers will slowly come to a stop”.
The Minister for Higher Education has an other view on things:
“In the past there were Chinese students that applied here while they could hardly speak English. It’s not our goal to attract as many foreign students as possible, but that we attract the best”
The Dutch higher education system is of good quality, but thinking that the best students from all over the world will come to the Netherlands at any cost might just be a bit arrogant. If bright students think of applying in the Netherlands, you better make the process as flexible as possible. The best students got plenty of other options!
Update: in response to the Volkskrant article, the Immigration Office reports on its website that applications for student visas increased again in 2005 to 6527. It also claims that the process of obtaining a visa was shortened in the past year.