Elisabeth Minnemann introduces herself

By Elisabeth Minnemann

Elisabeth Minnemann, Chairman of The Hague University of Applied Sciences, has been a member of the National Commission Code of Conduct for Higher Education (National Commission) since 1 September 2023. Within the National Commission, she serves as the representative for higher professional education and holds the position of vice-chair. In this newsletter, she is happy to introduce herself to you.

“Internationalisation is a significant asset for higher education in the Netherlands. International knowledge and expertise are indispensable in a knowledge-driven economy. Internationalisation makes an important contribution to the quality of our education and research. I would like to talk briefly about what I consider to be the value of internationalisation and how we can strengthen it through mutual agreements in the Code of Conduct.

International experience enriches and improves us

International classroom
On a daily basis, I witness how internationalisation enriches education and research, whether it be the latest research on quantum technology or language skills and cultural sensitivity among our students. Internationalisation helps us foster an international classroom, benefiting our Dutch students as well as talented individuals elsewhere. This supports the mutual unlocking and sharing of knowledge. Through the international classroom, we provide our students from various backgrounds with a diversity of perspectives and a kaleidoscope of ways to view the world.

Essential for the economy
Beyond the undoubted value of the international classroom that brings together diverse perspectives, enabling students to develop as global citizens, we also urgently need highly skilled international professionals to address current and future challenges, including the tight labour market. For generations, our economic strength has been rooted in our international relations. Our international alumni will take their experience into their future as Holland Ambassadors. Added to this, the economic impact of our international alumni who choose to remain in the Netherlands, which equates to EUR 1.5 billion, cannot be underestimated. Our standing as a top-tier destination for international education, which is recognised around the world, is a crucial asset in this context.

When I first came to the Netherlands 27 years ago, I was so impressed by the openness and broad-mindedness I found here. I am incredibly proud that this continues to shine through in many aspects of our higher education. I sincerely hope that we can demonstrate the underlying potency this harbours by sharing the outstanding examples of our community and our education and research.

International context
The pressure on internationalisation, not just within higher education, is becoming increasingly apparent. Over the past year, the discussion on the number of international students has come to a head.

As an internationally oriented community, we are affected by the debate questioning the value and importance of internationalisation. To ensure the worth of our international education remains intact, our foremost task now must be to maintain the capacity to handle situations wisely on our own. The Netherlands has a well-structured system in place that supports study migration. A particular feature of our system, alongside legislative provisions, is the major role reserved for the sector itself: self-regulation of study migration in the form of recognised sponsorship, a Code of Conduct and a National Commission. That’s a major achievement, which we should cherish. And a responsibility we must live up to. Because self-regulation only works if we hold each other accountable for the agreements between us. I look forward to playing a proactive role in that regard as part of the National Commission. With thematic studies on information disclosure and admissions, for example. Given the unwarranted criticism being levelled at study migration, that has become more important than ever. We’re willing to fulfil our responsibility as a sector.

Permanent safeguard
We shouldn’t let concerns around accommodation and packed lecture halls take precedence over the long-term effect of internationalisation and an international student population: the link between people. Despite the divisive impact of current geopolitical developments, education in particular remains a potent soft power tool for maintaining links across borders. As such, the discussion about internationalisation extends far beyond the welcome and support given to international students in the Netherlands. It is about the need for students, from home as well as abroad, to connect with each other and develop respect for one another’s views on personal development and prosperity.

It’s up to us to make that value tangible, in all its dimensions. And, as a National Commission, to act as a permanent safeguard in that respect.”

Elisabeth Minnemann