Law has to hit the brakes and possibly introduces numerus fixus for English BA

To prevent an even bigger influx of students, the law faculty is considering to hit the brakes hard by introducing a numerus fixus for the English taught bachelor.

The faculty is hardly able to cope with the current growth. It’s already clear the new office building the faculty will move into next year, will be too small; dozens of new staff members have recently been hired to keep up with the increasing number of students. There’s also a big shortage of educational space.

Most of the growth is in the English taught bachelor international law, says dean Wilbert Kolkman. Ten years ago, about a hundred students joined the program on a yearly basis. ‘Now it’s 380’, says Kolkman.

They are mostly international students. Where the number of internationals before used to be around twenty-five per cent of all students, it is now ‘solidly moving up’ to about forty per cent, Kolkman estimates. 

Thousands of euro’s extra

As of this academic year, students from outside the EU already pay thousands of euro’s more in tuition fees. This is, however, yielding no results in the influx of students, the faculty board says. Stricter demands on language competency and a mandatory check to see if the studies fit a prospective student have also been implemented. But the students still keep coming.

Therefore Kolkman wants a discussion in the faculty and a decision to be made by February latest as to whether or not ask the minister for permission to implement a numerus fixus.

The shift in the international to Dutch student ratio in itself is not so much the problem, the dean thinks. ‘But you have to form an opinion about it, especially when it regards such a rapid growth.’ According to Kolkman, the discussion is therefore bigger than just this specific study program. ‘Where do we want to go as faculty and maybe more so, as university?’


If permission for a numerus fixus on solely the English taught study program is granted, then it will be in the form of a legal experiment. Currently Dutch law does not allow selection based on language. Although education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf is working on a law to make this kind of selection possible, it has been put on ice for the time being.

In a recent debate in the Dutch parliament state secretary Dennis Wiersma (primary and secondary education) said the new law will be filed to the Lower House by the end of this year. However Geert van Dam, chair of the board of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), stated it will take until 2025 before the law will be practically applicable. 

Over last summer, the UvA already asked for permission to start a legal experiment to restrict the influx of students for two of their English taught programs (Political Sciences and Psychology).


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