International students don’t feel at home in the Netherlands
According to a survey by three student organisations (LSVb, ISO and ESN), international students in the Netherlands don’t feel at home and often feel excluded. Over 75 percent feel they lack contact with their Dutch peers.
Excluded, isolated and stressed
The survey, which was completed by 1.002 international students in the Netherlands, highlighted a variety of problems faced by a great deal of the respondents. Besides wanting more interaction with Dutch students, 72 percent of participants also felt that student housing should be organised better, with 44 percent experiencing a lot of stress regarding this issue. Additionally, more than a third of respondents indicated that they had been rejected for a property due to their foreign background.
“International students are actively recruited,” shares Carline van Breugel from LSVb. “But when they get to the Netherlands, often there isn’t any affordable accommodation, they don’t get Dutch lessons and they find it difficult to connect with fellow Dutch students. This needs to change.”
Solving student problems
One way teaching staff could tackle the peer contact problem would be to let international students work more often with Dutch ones, according to the studnet organisations. It is important that international students learn Dutch, they argue. As many as 37 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the options available to learn the language, and so they propose offering free Dutch courses to encourage integration.
The number of international students is increasing, with 90.000 studying in the Netherlands at universities of applied sciences and research universities in 2018. However, after graduating, fewer are sticking around. According to research published by Elsevier magazine, in 2017, 61 percent of international students graduating from a master’s programme left the country within half a year. This figure was only 45 percent in 2001.