The Potential Influence of a Right-Wing Government on Education in the Netherlands 

Written by Asiia Kilmukhametova 

The Netherlands, known for its progressive policies, has experienced a significant political shift with the election of right-wing parties like the Party for Freedom (PVV) and the newly founded Nationalist Socialist Coalition (NSC). With these parties securing a considerable number of seats in the Dutch House of Representatives, concerns arise regarding their potential impact on various aspects of Dutch society, including education. Particularly, their standpoint against the internationalization of higher education raises questions about the future direction of educational policies in the country. 

Historical context 

The Netherlands has been recognized for its progressive education system, which emphasizes inclusivity, diversity, and internationalization. According to the Dutch Government, of all incoming students in higher education, more than 25% are international students. Moreover, the country’s universities and schools of applied sciences are actively pursuing partnerships with institutions worldwide, providing Erasmus+ and Exchange programs, which are focused on attracting students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Dutch government have been emphasizing the importance of introducing students to international and intercultural society at a young age, and several studies showed that nearly a quarter of the Dutch population had a migrant background. 

However, the rise of nationalist movements and the growing popularity of right-wing ideologies may affect the internationalization of the Dutch education. Parties like the PVV and NSC advocate for stricter immigration policies and cultural preservation. PVV – a far-right and party leaded by Geert Wilders. Nationalist ideology mainly concerns immigrational and cultural concerns, supported by the call of PVV to ban the Quran and shut down all mosques in the Netherlands. Geert Wilders, leader of the party, stated in the past that he he hates Islam, which clearly indicates the party’s attitude toward Muslim population. The party opposes to the dual citizenships and immigration especially from non-Western countries. NSC, as well as PVV, represent conservative attitude towards immigration, stating that the number of immigrants taken each years should be halved. With right-wing coalition taking 81 out of the 150 seats in the parliament, Dutch educational system may experience major structural changes. 

Potential influence on Dutch education 

As nationalist parties gain power, minority communities, particularly Muslims, may find themselves marginalized within educational institutions. Discrimination may present itself in various forms, and it is expected that student community will particularly experience hardened admissibility rules and immigration processes. People with double citizenships may also be caught in these situations. Calls to Dutch culture may put pressure on Muslim students to conform, leading to their inability to express their cultural and religious identities.  

Furthermore, right-wing parties, namely PVV and NSC are expected prioritize policies aimed at preserving Dutch culture and language by reducing the number of foreign students in the educational institutions. This could entail stricter visa regulations, higher tuition fees for non-EU students, which are already 5 times higher than EU fee, and quotas on the enrollment of international students. The number of English-taught and double-degrees may be reduced, leading to international students choosing other destinations for their academic pursuits. 

Exchange and Erasmus + programs have long been essential components of the Dutch higher education, fostering cross-cultural exchange, and mutual understanding among students. The future of these programs may also be compromised, as the Netherlands will not be able to insure an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for the incoming students, possibly endangering and complication their studies in the Netherlands. PVV states that the universities’ primary responsibility should be to Dutch students. From the perspective of Dutch students, the prioritization of Dutch sovereignty over international engagement can lead to the reduction of exchange programs. 

Under the rule of right-wing government, international universities whose ideologies are different from nationalist ideas may find themselves at risk of receiving less funding or facing other forms of institutional pressure. In its election manifesto, the PVV writes that all English-language undergraduate courses should be eliminated. Policies aimed at cultural preservation could prioritize funding for institutions that align with these objectives. Reduced financial support may constrain the governmental ability to attract top talent and reduce the supply of resources and opportunities for students that need them to in an increasingly competitive environment. 


The potential influence of right-wing Dutch government on education raises important questions about the future direction of the country’s educational policies. While parties like the PVV and NSC may seek to limit the internationalization of higher education and promote nationalist ideas, they are likely to encounter resistance from within the education sector and broader society.  

As the Netherlands experiences the unstable and unforeseen period of political change, it must aim to uphold the principles of diversity, and academic inclusivity that have long been the merit of its education system. 


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