Photo: DUB

Minister wants to reduce subsidy for internationalisation organisation Nuffic


Internationalisation organisation Nuffic is expected to receive considerably less subsidies from the Ministry of Education. The reputation of the Netherlands as an "internationally oriented knowledge economy" is jeopardized because of that, according to Nuffic.

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At the beginning of July, Nuffic received a letter from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science with the message: your subsidy will be reduced from 2021. Nuffic revealed the news itself after consultation with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Director Freddy Weima has decided to do so, because he wanted to inform his employees.

"We are disappointed," he responds. How much money the foundation must surrender exactly is not yet known. “A number of activities are still under discussion. Only when a final decision has been taken on these will we know the extent of the impact. But it runs in the millions.” Nuffic receives 20 million euros in subsidies from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science each year.

Knowledge economy
The cutbacks have major consequences for the Netherlands education support offices (NESOs) abroad, where Nuffic recruits international students, supports exchange programmes and maintains an extensive network of alumni. “The NESOs are outposts for international cooperation between educational institutions. The intended decision to phase out the subsidy for this affects the reputation of the Netherlands as an internationally oriented knowledge economy," said a spokesperson for the organization.

In addition, the Ministry intends to stop financing the Holland Alumni Network. This network is intended, among other things, to link international talent to the Dutch labour market. The subsidy for internationalisation in primary, secondary and vocational education is also under discussion. It is not yet known where the cutbacks will be felt most.

At the same time, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science wants to secure part of the other Nuffic tasks, by anchoring them in the law. This concerns, for example, the valuation of foreign diplomas and the management of scholarship and subsidy programmes. The Senate and House of Representatives still have to agree to this. Nuffic furthermore remains responsible for the European Erasmus+ exchange programme and for programmes from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such as the Orange knowledge programme.

Why the Nuffic grant is under discussion, the minister's spokesperson does not want to say. He refers to a recent investigation by the Central Government Audit Service, in which the relationship between the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and Nuffic was examined. Client Ministry of Education, Culture and Science wants to tighten the ties with Nuffic and they had them examine how this can be done best. The subsidies that the internationalisation organisation receives are examined as well.

"As a result of this investigation, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has outlined the contours for the relationship with Nuffic in the future," said the spokesperson in a written response. "We are going to look at how we can continue the activities, so you cannot conclude that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science considers internationalisation to be less important." The ministry is still waiting for the results of the long-awaited Interdepartmental Policy Research Internationalisation and does not want to get ahead of things any further.

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