International students struggling in the Netherlands
International students are struggling in the Netherlands, according to the Annual International Student Survey (AISS). The survey found that 59 percent struggle with mental health problems, and 28 percent don’t feel at home in the Netherlands.
Dutch students also struggle with mental health problems, often caused by performance pressure from their studies and jobs. But international students are also far away from home and their support network. Homesickness and a lack of social contact often influence their well-being.
A significant group (35.4 percent) also struggles financially. International students indicate that life in the Netherlands is expensive. They most often mention the cost of public transport. Some international students can only afford to use public transport a few times per week to attend university or college.
Most international students (70 percent) don’t know that they are entitled to a loan and a student travel product if they work more than 56 hours per month, the survey found. And the small group that does know about this regulation called the demanded work hours unachievable combined with their studies.
Access to healthcare is also a problem for many. 37 percent of international students aren’t sure if they need to be insured in the Netherlands. And if they have European health insurance, the Dutch system often doesn’t accept it.
The AISS is compiled by student organizations ISO, ESN, and LSVb. “International students make up a quarter of the student population, but this survey remains the only structural monitoring of these students’ position. This while it is more than worrying how much this group is struggling,” ISO chairman Terri van der Velden said.
According to her, reporting on international students focuses too much on the pressure on education. That pressure affects international students too, she said.
The student organizations recommend that the government and educational institutions invest in access to mental health care for international students. “Inform the students about where they can go for help, for example, student psychologists, easily accessible preventive aid from the municipality, the GGZ, and other information portals.”
ISO, ESN, and LSVb also recommend that institutions communicate practical information about living, studying, and working in the Netherlands more clearly.