Lonely international students want to get to know more Dutch people

| HOP, Bas Belleman

Many international students experience mental health issues from time to time. Half of them would like more contact with Dutch students and one in four does not feel at home here.

This emerges from a survey among 229 students from 57 different countries. The questionnaire was sent out by student organisations ISO, LSVb and the Erasmus Student Network.

Not a particularly large number of students took part, say the researchers, but they feel that the results are nevertheless a cause for concern. It is 'extremely alarming that international students are finding things so hard', says Terri van der Velden, chair of the Dutch National Students' Association.

Second class

Even though currently a quarter of the students here come from abroad, she thinks that international students are still getting too little attention. They are treated as ‘second class students’.

But it is not all doom and gloom here. Most of the international students give their social life in the Netherlands an 8. Despite that, around 60 percent sometimes experience mental health issues and stress. Half of them would like more contact with Dutch students.

To get a better picture, other parties – such as the government – ought to distribute this Annual International Student Survey, in the view of the student organisations. But that is not happening. So they are doing it themselves, this year for the fifth time.

Accommodation

The recommendations that arise from the survey are self-evident. Accommodation is one of the problems experienced by international students. Focus the policy on this and let international students know what problems they could face.

Another recommendation is to encourage integration between Dutch and international students. That will not happen by itself. Many associations and clubs are ‘Dutch only’ and international students do not join them.

The majority of international students also appear not to know that they are entitled to a student public transport card if they work here for 56 hours a month. Additionally, they sometimes have problems with the rules for mandatory insurance. So better information needs to be given, the student organisations conclude.