Internationalisation is an intrinsic part of the THUAS DNA. It always was and always will be. We reaffirmed this once again with our stakeholder in our new Strategic Plan. That explains why a motion in the Dutch House of Representatives calling for a cap on the intake of international students hit us hard and prompted questions from us this week. It affects our identity. The conviction that internationalisation contributes to the quality of our education and research has been the cornerstone of our institutional strategy for many years. This absolutely requires a diverse student population. An international classroom cannot exist without a good mix of nationalities and cultures.
In the upcoming days, the minister will respond to the motion. We hope that the importance of internationalisation for our education and research, but also for Dutch society as a whole and our economy, will be paramount in the response. The sentiment expressed in the House of Representatives depicts a one-sided image of risk that mainly consists of concerns about student accommodation and a misconception of the alleged financial gain by internationals. Together with colleagues and through our umbrella organisation the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, we are advocating for a more balanced picture:
In addition to the value of an international classroom where different perspectives come together so students can develop as global citizens, we urgently need highly skilled international professionals to address current and future labour market shortages.
Our position is clear: Our ambition is to contribute to a sustainable and fair world through interdisciplinary education and research, and in collaboration with regional and international partners. Internationalisation plays an essential role in our education, research and partnerships to achieve this mission and ensuring an inclusive and intercultural dimension in all aspects of our knowledge institution.
Countless examples, as also presented at last week’s Nuffic conference, illustrate the impact of internationalisation on the world view, careers and lives of our students.
I have to admit that it pains me to read and see a growing resistance to and misunderstanding of internationalisation. When I came to the Netherlands 26 years ago, I was very impressed by the openness and open-mindedness I encountered. I am immensely proud that THUAS is still such a place and sincerely hope that we can disseminate this dormant strength by sharing the great examples of our community and our education and research.
As a university of applied sciences in the Randstad, in the heart of society, we can help make internationalisation accessible to all our students and our surroundings.
Elisabeth Minnemann is president of the Executive Board of The Hague University of Applied Sciences.