Making it easy to ‘Make it in the Netherlands’

The Dutch government sees the potential of international academic talent and has rolled out a new action plan for keeping international students here for good, but its relevance for TU Delft is up for debate.

In the Netherlands there is ample opportunity for international academic talent. According to Nuffic, there are about 870 master programmes and 50 PhD programmes offered in English, and in the 2011-2012 academic year 13% of students following higher education (approximately 87,000) were of international status.  At TU Delft this ratio is a bit higher with 16% of the student population coming from abroad in 2012.

After studying the economic impact, The Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands has come to one overarching conclusion: international students are of high value and retaining them should be a priority.  According to Council, 70% of students wish to stay in the Netherlands after studying but only 27% do so.  

In light of this the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker introduced the “Make it in the Netherlands Action Plan 2013-2016”. The Action Plan is organized in five lines of action: make Dutch language learning more accessible, promote study and career as a single entity, integrate students into local life, remove administrative red tape and allow each region to create a tailored approach to retention.  

While this plan speaks for the Netherlands in general, in Delft, students point to the same hurdles as their Dutch counterparts. “Initially I felt the distance between the Dutch and international students, but you get used to it…now the major hurdle to face is mapping a career path where I really belong.” says Nishant Narayan, a recent master’s graduate from Sustainable Energy Technology.

“I would like to stay here after I finish my architecture and urban design master’s degree…but to find work in an architecture firm is a very difficult task so the biggest hurdle is the lack of job opportunities and the competition in the field,” says Sanaa Degani.

This may be in part because Delft offers a network of existing to help transition internationals. Both the university and local government offer language courses. The Central International Office (CIO) acts as the liaison between the international student and the university and hosts an elaborate introduction programme for incoming students. The TU Delft Career Centre provides personal consultancies, guidance for and organized approach to job hunting and guidelines for staying in the Netherlands after study completion.

“We agree with the objectives of the plan, and even at TU Delft where international students are made a definite priority – our career centre ranks #1 in the 2012 I-Graduate – there is always room for improvement,” says Carla Fluhr, Team Leader of Admission and Mobility and Deputy Head of the CIO.

In Delft, it may more be a case of a need for simplification of processes and for international students to take advantage of existing support than the need for a new and decidedly ambitious plan from the government.

Editor Redactie

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