The Dutch government has rolled out a five-step plan to retain talented, international students in the Netherlands by making it more attractive for them to enter the Dutch labour market after their studies.
A survey has shown that 70% of international students wish to remain in the Netherlands after completing their studies here, but a mere 27% actually do.
The plan titled “Make it in the Netherlands” was presented late last month by the minister of Education, Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker, and is based on a report by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) released earlier this year.
From the report it seems one of the biggest factors in deciding to stay or leave for students is their ability, or lack thereof, to communicate effectively in Dutch.
“The huge supply of study programs that are offered in English is one of the unique selling points of higher education in the Netherlands. Half of the master programs offered in this country is in English and there are also plenty of bachelor programs with an English equivalent. International students cite this as one of the biggest reasons for studying in the Netherlands.
“The flip side of the coin however is that you do need to speak Dutch for successful social integration. And it seems to find a job in the Netherlands, English is not sufficient. English as an advantage while you are studying, turns into a disadvantage after studying. Thus, it pays to start learning Dutch in an early stage of your studies. That’s why we want to make it easier to study Dutch - online as well as in the traditional manner.”
The five-step plan presented by Bussemaker is as follows:
- Everything starts with language. An online Dutch language course (MOOC) will be developed and presented in one portal. At the same time, the English language skills of lecturers will be stepped up.
- From study to career. A conscious effort will be made to strengthen the links between the education sector and the labour market, especially in the top sectors and those suffering from a skills shortage. More internships will be on offer and information about career possibilities will be brought together on the website www.careerinholland.nl
- Breaking the bubble. Many international students find it hard to make contact with their Dutch peers and forming meaningful relationships in the Dutch society. The buddy- system will be re-invigorated and add an international dimension to local student organizations.
- Cutting the red tape. Administrative obstacles when it comes to studying and looking for a job will be simplified and smoothened as far as possible and information also be made available in English.
- Regional solutions. No region operates in exactly the same manner or have the same shortages. Which is why the three key roleplayers in attracting and retaining foreign talent - higher education institutes, local government and local businesses - will work
- together and receive a so-called start subsidy for launching projects suited to their needs in this regard.
More information about the “Make it in the Netherlands” action plan can be found on www.nuffic.nl
by Anesca Smith