In conversation with Titia Bredée, Nuffic’s new Director General

Education, government and entrepreneurs must join forces to take internationalisation to the next level, says Titia Bredée, Nuffic's new Director General.
Titia Bredee

Internationalisation benefits from a long-term vision and approach. That’s what Titia Bredée is conviced of. She took office as the new head of Nuffic in August. Schools should continuously invest in the internationalisation of their curriculum. And students, from primary education to lifelong development, should have access to international experiences at every level.

“I believe that internationalisation contributes to a better world,” says Titia. “Students gain knowledge about other countries and cultures and learn to work together across borders. That leads to beautiful things and takes the world a step further. I think it's great that I can contribute to that in this role."

Know what you want to achieve

Internationalisation is a common thread through Titia's career. That started when, at the end of the eighties, she got internationalisation in her portfolio as a policy officer at Utrecht University. As faculty director at the Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen, she was subsequently involved in a multi-year exchange between the Netherlands and Morocco. As academy director at Avans University of Applied Sciences, she also stood at the cradle of transnational security courses in Breda and Antwerp with Belgian colleagues.

Titia learned that internationalisation is not a link that you, as an educational institution, can simply switch over. “It's a matter of patience. Internationalisation takes time,” says Titia, who worked as president of Helicon Education for the past few years. “You have to be clear about what you want to achieve. You need to know what your partners and stakeholders want to achieve. Only when you realise that, you can come up with a good curriculum or partnership.”

"If you get acquainted with the wonderful world around you early on, you will take it with you for the rest of your life."

- Titia Bredée, director Nuffic (photo)

Involve business

Although she takes those experiences and best practices with her to Nuffic, she also wants to learn from others. “We have more than three hundred enthusiastic and skilled employees who know a lot more than I do. I want to invite them all to spread and share that enthusiasm. As long as we keep in touch, especially with all our partners, we can keep improving.”

“I therefore also make that appeal to our stakeholders: let us hear from you. How can Nuffic provide optimal support? We are aware that internationalisation is not a one-size-fits-all. One institution will have a greater need for research, the other for sharing or collecting knowledge through workshops or webinars. We are there for all institutions.”

Titia also explicitly includes the business community among its stakeholders. “In the Netherlands we train people for a career in an international world. Business plays a crucial role in this. I would like to hear from entrepreneurs with whom our stakeholders work which competencies they need and how Nuffic, together with the educational field, can contribute to this.”

Global Development

Other stakeholders have already made themselves heard. Recently, the Netherlands has been visited by ministers from countries such as Yemen and Iraq, countries in which Nuffic is active through the Orange Knowledge Programme. For example, Iraq would like to explore whether it can strengthen agricultural vocational education with agricultural training centers (AOCs).

“I see Nuffic as the party that brings supply and demand together, so that we can continue to work on the implementation of Dutch knowledge diplomacy.”


Giving further substance to sustainable internationalisation is another challenge for Nuffic and the educational field. Nuffic supports the Global Goals of the United Nations and will continue to work towards them in the coming years. Titia emphasizes that physical student mobility remains indispensable. “It's not just about knowledge, but also about experience and self-reliance. A period abroad – whether long or short – has everything to be life-changing. At the same time, you also create new ambassadors for the Netherlands with inbound mobility.”

"Not everyone has to go abroad, but everyone should have the opportunity for an international experience."

“But”, she continues, “internationalisation is more than going abroad. Take eTwinning, for example, where you involve the entire class in internationalisation in an accessible way. In the context of sustainability, we will continue to support such online projects. It's about balance. Not everyone has to go abroad, but everyone should have the opportunity for an international experience. I am not only thinking of pupils and students, but just as much of education professionals.”

She concludes: “Nuffic's goal has been achieved if we have a continuous line of primary, secondary, vocational, higher professional education and lifelong development, in which internationalisation plays a prominent role. If you get acquainted with the wonderful world around you early on, you will take it with you for the rest of your life.”