Dutch language a popular study choice at Eastern European universities
In the Netherlands, the number of Dutch Studies students has halved in the past decade. But in Eastern European universities, the Dutch language is an increasingly popular study, the Volkskrant reports.
The University of Wroclaw in western Poland has the largest Dutch study program in Central and Eastern Europe. The faculty has an average of between 170 and 200 students per year. “In good years, there are even 250,” Barabara Kalla, head of the department, told the Volkskrant. By comparison, Dutch Studies in the Netherlands averages about 200 students per year.
Besides Wroclaw, students in Poland can also study Dutch in Poznan or Lublin. Students can study Dutch in Budapest or Debrecen in Hungary, Olomouc in the Czech Republic, and Bucharest in Romania. “In recent years, we had to limit the number of new students to 30 because we don’t have enough teachers,” Alexa Stoicescu of the Dutch department in Bucharest told the newspaper. “Judging by the demand, we could welcome 50 to 60 new students every year.”
The popularity is partly due to job prospects. Dutch multinationals are eager to hire students who speak the language. And because Dutch speakers are rarer than, for example, English or German speakers abroad, it often comes with a good starting salary.
“Whoever starts working for a multinational sometimes immediately earns 5,000 zloty (1,130 euros) per month,” Kalla of the University of Wroclaw told the newspaper. The Dutch-Polish Chamber of Commerce organizes job mixers to introduce students to companies looking to hire.
“Two years ago, we conducted a survey among our graduate students. At the end of the summer, everyone had a job,” Orsolya Réthelyi, Head of Studies in Dutch at Budapest's Eötvös Loránd University, said to the Volkskrant. The faculty currently has 84 active students. It’s not uncommon for students to encounter headhunters in their second year already.
But it’s not economic reasons alone that attract students to Dutch studies, the lecturers said. Some have had contact with the language or have relatives in the Netherlands. Some start learning Dutch on a whim.
“We have a student who is crazy about Van Gogh,” Stoicescu of Bucharest said. “Another first-year told me he had read The Sorrow of Belgium in a Romanian translation in the summer and, therefore, wanted to study Dutch. But a well-paid job remains important. Our own research shows that 80 percent of our students end up with a company.”