Help for international students to stay in the Netherlands

As part of its intention to make the Netherlands more attractive to foreign talent, the Dutch government has released details of an action plan designed in coalition with universities, industry, unions, employer and student organisations and the Chamber of Commerce.

Jet Bussemaker, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, launched "Make it in the Netherlands" in front of hundreds of international students at the careers event on November 23, 2013.

The plan is designed to first attract international students and then help them form strong ties with the Netherlands. According to the minister, motivated foreign students boost success rates of universities and Dutch students, while the labour market needs international talent.

Studies have shown that while 70 per cent of international students would like to stay in the Netherlands after graduation, only 27 per cent actually do so.

Recent estimates by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis estimated that if one in five foreign students stays in the Netherlands after graduating, public revenues would increase by 740 million euros.

The "Make it in the Netherlands" plan

The plans has three stated aims. Firstly, to ensure all international students feel welcome in the Netherlands and know that they can start a career in the country.

Secondly, it aims to have as many international students as possible decide to work in the Netherlands after they graduate, especially in the top sectors and sectors with good labour-market prospects. This means the collation will begin strategic recruitment and work to boost retention before, during and after students’ studies.

Lastly, it want to ensure that all international students maintain a bond with the Netherlands after they have completed their studies, even if they go home.

Learning Dutch

A report published by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands shows that language is a key factor behind people’s decision to stay.

As the Dutch generally speak English, foreign students do not need to learn Dutch to study here for several years. If they wish to stay in the Netherlands to find a job, however, they will need to learn to speak Dutch well.

One of the plan’s actions is to provide students with a Dutch language course. An online course (an MOOC) is already under development, as is a digital platform to make it easier for students to find existing courses.

2015 update

In 2015 the Dutch government introduced a new orientation year residence permit for international graduates in the Netherlands to stay in the country for an extra year to look for a job or start a business.

Alexandra Gowling


Alexandra Gowling

Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in Asia before coming to the Netherlands a year ago. She enjoys writing, reading...

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