Majority of international students in the Netherlands struggle with their mental health

Majority of international students in the Netherlands struggle with their mental health

A recent study has revealed that a significant proportion of international students attending university in the Netherlands grapple with mental health issues and feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Internationals struggling with finances and mental health

The International Student Survey - conducted annually by Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO) in collaboration with the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and National Student Union (LSVb) - was designed to investigate the well-being of internationals living and studying in the Netherlands

ISO, ESN, and LSVb found that a whopping 59 percent of respondents admitted they struggled with their mental health, largely as a result of the fact that they feel isolated and distant from family and loved ones, and feel significant academic pressure. Over a quarter of those surveyed (28 percent) also said they didn’t feel at home in the Netherlands

In addition to struggling with feelings of loneliness and stress, 35,4 percent of international students also face various financial problems, with many indicating that life in the Netherlands is simply too expensive. 

ISO: International students treated like second-class students

“The focus of the conversation is often on how the education system is suffering from the explosive growth of international students, but the students themselves are also being destroyed,” says ISO chair Terri van der Velden. “International students are still treated too much like second-class students.” 

Figures published earlier this year by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported that in the 2021 / 2022 academic year, as many as two in five first-years enrolled at Dutch universities were international students, and ISO points out internationals make up around a quarter of the student population in the Netherlands.

Not only do internationals face the stress of having to find student housing as cities face a growing housing shortage, but many also struggle to find the information they need when it comes to health insurance, public transport, and student loans. “Time and again it is proven how bad the state of student welfare is. These figures show that international students are no exception,” Van der Velden says.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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