Foreign students often feel lonely

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Many foreign students feel lonely or even depressed, student organisations ISO and LSVb and the Erasmus Student Network Netherlands warn. Housing is also a huge problem for them.

Read in Dutch

Read in Dutch

A questionnaire held among foreign students allegedly shows that one in three sometimes feels depressed, feelings which are perhaps a direct result of the loneliness two thirds of respondents say they feel.

Unwelcome
Foreign students don’t always succeed in getting along with Dutch students. “A lot of the locals arrange events that you feel unwelcome to,” one respondant says.

The organisations bring the news on the day the government is to discuss internationalisation with minister Van Engelshoven. More attention needs to go to the position of international students, they say.

Providing information to foreign students, for instance, needs to be improved. One in three students apparently doesn’t know what the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) is, and not everyone is familiar with the tax authorities and IND.

No hard conclusions
Still, hard conclusions based on this questionnaire are “undesirable”, the makers say, because only 311 foreign students filled out the questionnaire: 110 from outside of Europe, and 201 with a European nationality. It’s an exploration, one they wish to repeat annually.

The number of international students has greatly increased the past few years, especially in academia. There are approximately 28 thousand international hbo students, and another 49 thousand international students at universities. Exchange students, who don’t come for the length of an entire study programme, aren’t included in that number.

Incidentally, universities and universities of applied sciences are actively trying to offer the students a better bond with the Netherlands so they’ll stay and work here after graduating, they write in their internationalisation agenda. That would be good for the economy, at the very least. If the number of internationals who stay increases by one percent (from 25 to 26 percent), that would bring the treasury around sixty million euros a year.

Translation: Indra Spronk

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