Lecture for Applied Physics students at Delft University of Technology with Aurèle Adam, Programme Director of the Master Applied Physics. © TU Delft.
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Chairman of the Dutch Knowledge Coalition (Kenniscoalitie), Marcel Levi, warns that the Netherlands will fall behind if the planned cuts continue. The coalition plans to reduce the number of international students and knowledge migrants, which could limit access to highly educated talent. This contrasts to invest 3% of GDP in R&D by 2030.

Why this is important:

The Knowledge Coalition is concerned about the position of the Netherlands as a knowledge and innovation country following the outline agreement of PVV, VVD, NSC, and BBB. The proposed cuts in the Growth Fund, the Research and Science Fund, and the sector plans (higher education) are detrimental to research, science, and innovation and affect public R&D investment.

Impact of cuts on the knowledge base

The cuts proposed by the new outline agreement are of great concern to the Knowledge Coalition, which represents universities and entrepreneurs. The Growth Fund, crucial for stimulating research and innovation, will be phased out. In addition, funds for research and science will be reduced by more than a billion euros. This funding is essential to strengthening the Netherlands’ public knowledge base and innovation capacity. Levi of the Knowledge Coalition stresses that the Netherlands “will fall further behind.”

While the outline agreement speaks of strengthening the knowledge economy and innovation, this is at odds with the proposed measures. “The coalition wants to sharply reduce the number of international students and tighten and increase the requirements of the knowledge migrant scheme. This may affect the availability of highly educated talent for the labor market and for the Dutch knowledge economy. Possibly, companies will also invest less, thereby weakening the Netherlands’ position,” said the Knowledge Coalition.

The contribution of international talent

International students and knowledge migrants are invaluable to the Dutch knowledge economy and labor market. They contribute to a diverse and innovative scientific landscape. The Netherlands will need a significant number of labor migrants in the coming years to support the economy and counteract the effects of an aging population.

The German economy shows that a generous migration policy can contribute to economic prosperity. A significant proportion of the founders of start-ups in Germany have a migration background, underscoring the importance of an inclusive migration policy. The Netherlands could learn from this lesson, especially as it faces similar demographic and economic challenges.

Research and reports support investment

Various studies and reports show that structural investments in research and science pay off. The Knowledge Coalition cites these studies to reinforce its case for maintaining the funds. The Netherlands aims to invest 3% of the gross domestic product in research and development by 2030, but with the current course, this goal seems unachievable.

Strategic thinking for future prosperity

Limiting migration is seen as a short-term solution without understanding global economic realities. It may lead to stagnation in progress and innovation. The Netherlands faces a crucial choice: pursue a strategy that is open to international talent or isolate itself within the European Union, sending a troubling signal about our commitment to openness and cooperation.

The coming cabinet formation period will determine the future of Dutch innovation capacity. The Knowledge Coalition and other experts call for thoughtful decision-making with an eye for the long-term consequences of migration policy.