Platform for International Education

New Policy Papers 2018

In May and June several policy papers were issued in the Netherlands, which will have an impact on international (development) cooperation in post-secondary education, research, knowledge development and innovation.

First, the VSNU (the Association of Universities in the Netherlands) together with VH (the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences) together released the Internationaliseringsagenda Hoger Onderwijs. The agenda was published in Dutch.

Though this policy paper focusses to an important extent to the internationalization of higher education in the Netherlands, it contains a chapter on the strengthening of the international positioning (chapter 3) which includes a section on global development. The title of section 7 is ‘continued attention for sustainable development goals from the (Dutch) higher educational insitutions and the Dutch government’.  According to this section, Dutch higher education institutions, with the support of the Dutch government, should contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is in the interest of global development in general and also of the Netherlands.

In 2015 the VSNU and VH already published a policy paper Knowledge for All which actually addressed more extensively the major global challenges and how the Netherlands’ knowledge sector can and should contribute to addressing these.

Second, the Dutch minister of Higher Education ‘replied’ in June with a letter Kamerbrief over Internationalisering MBO en HO  in which she basically confirms the Internationaliseringsagenda though putting in conditions to secure that internationalization really contributes to the quality of higher education – but again with an emphasis on the effect of internationalization for higher education in the Netherlands. Little is said about the importance of internationalization in the Netherlands for contributing to global knowledge development and sustainable development elsewhere.

Third, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation issued the policy paper Investeren in Perspectief – Goed voor de Wereld, Goed voor Nederland. This paper provides the framework for international trade policy in relation to development cooperation, and vice versa. The paper gives ample attention to the importance of knowledge and education, both as an end in itself (for instance to provide youth in poor countries with perspectives for the future) and as a means to underpin other ambitions, such as achieving the SDGs. Mention is made of the new Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP), the principle instrument to support cooperation in knowledge and higher education between Netherlands educational institutions and their partners in the developing world. Other instruments may also be relevant, such as an annual additional € 60 million budget ‘for new investments in education, work, youth and women’ and the ‘SDG fund for public-private cooperation’. Nevertheless, the actual budget that is made specifically available for knowledge cooperation and scholarships for students from the Global South has been actually reduced with about one third in comparison with former programs.