It is the last, but also potentially largest party to present an election manifesto: New Social Contract. Leader Pieter Omtzigt’s party pays a lot of attention to higher education and migration. For example, regional agreements must first be made about the influx of students, says NSC. “The influx of foreign students is related to the available capacity of living space and training places in student cities. This can be differentiated by region and sector.”
As far as NSC is concerned, it remains possible for shortage sectors to attract international talent, although they are not exempt from speaking Dutch. “In some sectors it is important to bind international talent to our country; this is taken into account when making agreements. Higher education courses are again largely offered in the Dutch language as standard; this will also reduce the number of international students. Exceptions for certain studies remain possible,” the program states.
Attention is also paid to Dutch in the English-language master’s programme
If foreign students learn to speak Dutch, they will be better equipped to work in the Netherlands and contribute to society, is the idea of the new party. “Dutch is also given a place in the curriculum in these exceptions, so that students also become part of Dutch society,” they write.
Omtzigt has been making a point in Parliament for some time about the attractive effect that Dutch student financing has on European students. Partly because of this, forty percent of the number of first-year students consists of foreign students, according to NSC. The party therefore wants to introduce a waiting period for the right to a study grant. The rules in the European Union must then be adjusted in such a way that EU students will only be entitled to a Dutch study grant if they work many more hours. NSC also wants to prevent foreign students from receiving a Dutch study grant while they also receive financial support from their own government.
Institutional tuition fees for international talent will increase significantly
In addition, the already high tuition fees, which usually amount to 10,000 euros for students from outside the EU, will be significantly increased, if NSC has its way. The price now covers costs, but the new party wants to increase it further.
As announced earlier this week, NSC also wants to accommodate students from the unlucky generation. “We pay attention to the ‘unlucky generation’ who built up a student debt in the period from 2015/16 to 2023/24 thanks to the loan system. We want to keep interest rates very low for this specific group of students for ten years. We are looking at the possibilities to further accommodate these students.” Omtzigt has already proposed to pay for this reduction in interest by reducing the 30% scheme for expats.
Capacity funding to inhibit internationalization
Omtzigt’s party wants to abandon the aim of attracting as many (international) students as possible and offering training. “This is the result of the current competition and funding based on student numbers,” NSC reasons. “The party will (partly) switch to capacity funding for the financing of university and vocational training,” the party promises.
NSC wants to maintain the strengthening of this government’s primary funding stream, but also make targeted investments in specific science disciplines. “To maintain the position of the Netherlands as a knowledge country, a substantial budget for fundamental scientific research and knowledge valorization is important. We support the strengthening of the primary flow of funds (‘sector funds’) for universities and starter grants to enable young researchers to develop their own line of research. Together with the efforts of the business community in the field of R&D, we are strengthening our top position in Europe in knowledge areas such as photonics, quantum technology, artificial intelligence, climate and medical technology.”
In addition, Omtzigt’s party is presenting a new research agenda for tax specialists and social scientists. Less research into profit tax and more research into allowances, is the credo that Omtzigt has often expressed. “It is unacceptable that we have many professors who deal with corporate income tax, but not a single chair on the future of the benefits system,” NSC writes in the election manifesto. “We strengthen research aimed at relevant Dutch policy issues. This concerns, for example, sociological issues, public administration, taxation and welfare work.”
Finally, the New Social Contract wants to pay attention to the integrity of scientists and the code of conduct for scientific integrity, which is currently being revised. “A lot of science funding requires scientists to collaborate with other organizations so that research results are as valuable as possible. Researchers must be completely transparent when chairs are funded by companies or a foreign power, as prescribed in the code of conduct. Extra attention will be paid to the knowledge safety desk and – if necessary – a reporting obligation.”
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