One-third of Postgraduate Research Assistants in the Netherlands comes from Abroad


One-third of Postgraduate Research Assistants in the Netherlands comes from Abroad

One-third of all Postgraduate Research Assistants (PRAs) in the Netherlands has a foreign passport. This amount increased considerably since 1996, the last year when research about this was conducted. Back then only 1 percent of them came from abroad.
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According to the research into PhD routes of Utrecht University and Erasmus University Rotterdam, the brain drain of Doctors from the Netherlands is not that substantial. On the contrary, we can speak of ‘brain gain’ in the Netherlands, since a lot of foreign Doctors want to stay in the Netherlands after defending their dissertation.


The research on PhD-Trajectories and Labour Market Mobility was subsidised by the Ministry of Education. Back in 2005, the ministry already indicated that there was too little known about PhD routes and PRAs themselves. For this research, the University of Utrecht and the University of Rotterdam questioned 443 PRAs from Delft, Wageningen, and from their own home cities. They believe this group is representative for all PRAs in the Netherlands.


Most foreign PRAs in the Netherlands come from Western and Eastern Europe and Asia, the research shows. The reputation of the university or supervisor are the most important reason for foreigners to come to the Netherlands for a PhD. According to the researchers, the Netherlands does not have to worry about a brain drain. Although out of all respondents one-fifth wants to go abroad after getting their PhD title, a great amount of foreign PRAs wants to stay in the Netherlands, and only a handful of Dutchmen plans to leave the country.


The research also reflects on the career opportunities of PRAs in the Netherlands. Of all respondents, 86 percent turned out to have a job even before defending their dissertation. Amongst the people who were still jobless was no relative majority of foreigners. Most of the PRAs found a job in the academic world. Furthermore, the research shows that PRAs feel that their supervisors have sufficient foreign experience. Two-thirds of them state that they are given enough possibilities to build up international contacts.