Bussemaker wants strong ties between international students and the Netherlands

Steps should be taken to make it more attractive for foreign students to start their career in the Netherlands, after they have completed their studies here. This could involve putting students in touch with potential employers before they have completed their studies, providing them with better information on careers in this country, and offering language courses. In this way, Minister Jet Bussemaker hopes to persuade more international talent to remain in the Netherlands after completing their studies.

The “Make it in The Netherlands” action plan includes a range of measures to attract international students, and to establish strong ties with them here in the Netherlands. Motivated foreign students raise the bar for everyone, boost the success rate (for Dutch students too), and strengthen the international character of Dutch higher education. There is also the fact that the job market desperately needs international talent. Studies have shown that while 70% of international students would like to stay on in the Netherlands after graduation, only 27% actually do so.  All the more reason to exploit this potential benefit.

An advisory report published by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) shows that the language is a key factor behind people’s decisions to stay. The Dutch generally speak good English, so it is often not necessary for foreign students to learn Dutch. But if they want to stay on in this country and find a job, then they will be expected to master the language. Providing them with language courses helps them to clear that particular hurdle. An online course (in the form of a MOOC) is already under development, and a digital platform is being created to make it easier for people to find existing courses.

The SER also underscores the importance of cultural integration. Right now, Dutch and foreign students live largely parallel lives. One way of breaking down these barriers is to get Dutch “buddies” to help their foreign peers find their way around. Student accommodation is also being reviewed, to find ways of getting a better mix of Dutch and foreign students. That will make it easier for foreign students to settle here, and to establish friendships and relationships.

There is also room for improvement in terms of the information foreign students are given. With this in mind, details of numerous private scholarships provided by businesses have been published at www.grantfinder.nl. Greater efforts are also being made to alert foreign students to the 1000 scholarships offered in the context of the Technology Pact. Existing arrangements for helping foreign students find jobs after completing their studies, before they leave the Netherlands, are also being upgraded.
Improvements to the www.careerinholland.nl site will make it a valuable hub (even more than it is now) for any job-related information in the Netherlands, such as courses, job vacancies, and help in starting your own business. Regional cooperation between universities and universities of applied sciences on the one hand and industry on the other, should generate more internships and part-time jobs for international students. Furthermore, the red tape that foreign students all too often encounter is being reviewed and, where possible, scrapped.

Minister Jet Bussemaker, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, launched the “Make it in the Netherlands” action plan in the presence of no fewer than 900 international students, during the NL4Talents careers event. The action plan was drawn up together with Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO), FNV Jong (trade union), the Dutch Student Union (LSVb), Kences (student accommodation organization), Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, SME Netherlands, Brainport Eindhoven, the Netherlands organization for international cooperation in higher education (Nuffic), the Dutch Higher Education Network for International Marketing (Dhenim), the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW), the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.