This is what alumni say about studying in holland

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Nuffic conducted a study on what Holland Alumni from the countries where a Neso office is located, appreciated about their study and life in the Netherlands. What do the results tell us in relation to the potential to successfully attract and bind international alumni for the Dutch labour market?

The Holland Alumni Barometer

Nuffic’s Holland Alumni Network database includes information on international students who have studied in the Netherlands (both self-financed students and those who had a scholarship). Nuffic research funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science resulted in a report about the needs and wishes of Holland Alumni and another on their career paths. In the first study, focus was on Neso countries and 11 other countries while the second study focused only on Neso countries. The current blog is based on the second study, which had 1539 respondents.

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Living and studying in the Netherlands

The majority of respondents (94%) are satisfied with their living and studying experience in the Netherlands and felt welcome. The four most valued aspects of the Dutch higher education system were the usage of English, teacher-student relations, competence based learning and an international classroom.

For most international students, the application for a study visa is the first contact that they have with a Dutch public institution, other than the university they have applied to. This contact contributes to their first impression of the Netherlands and is important. The majority of the respondents (89%) were satisfied with their visa application experience.

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Staying in the Netherlands after graduation

Four out of five alumni did not work during their studies in the Netherlands. Those who did, whether or not in a job relevant to their future career plans, were more likely to remain in the Netherlands after graduation or to return at a later stage in order to work. This suggests that a good time to attract alumni as potential future employees is during their studies. This can be achieved by increasing internship possibilities for international students.

Eleven percent (11%) of the respondents stayed on in the Netherlands or returned at a later stage to work. Some of these alumni were studying for a PhD while others were working in private knowledge-intensive companies (R&D).

The percentage of alumni who stayed on or returned to the Netherlands at a later stage could have been higher if the Dutch highly skilled migrant visa scheme had been better and more widely advertised than has been the case so far. After all, the decision to leave the Netherlands after graduation was primarily influenced by the expiry of the visa (39% of the respondents). An additional 22% of the respondents left the Netherlands for personal reasons while 11% left for better job opportunities elsewhere.

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Binding alumni to the Netherlands

The most important reasons for wanting to return to the Netherlands at a later stage, in order of importance, were the quality of life in the Netherlands, attractiveness of the living and social environment and the reputation of the universities.

On the other hand, employment opportunities, the Dutch culture and way of life, the quality of work, connectedness to the Netherlands, financial reasons (e.g. higher salaries, tax benefits), and ease of obtaining a visa were less important.

These preferences reflect where emphasis should be laid when aiming to improve conditions that can attract Holland alumni from Neso countries back to the Netherlands.

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Permanence of binding to the Netherlands

The study showed that Neso alumni who remained in the Netherlands primarily did so because of good employment opportunities and the quality of life and work in the Netherlands. However, this group was highly mobile and could not say how much longer they would stay in the Netherlands.

This, together with the preferred reasons for staying presented earlier, seems to indicate that efforts by employers to bind Holland alumni from Neso countries (e.g. quality of work, high salaries, tax benefits) may only have a temporary effect. Apparently there are other pull factors that make such offers not play an important role in permanently binding Neso alumni to the Netherlands.

In fact, of the 69% of the respondents who knew about the highly skilled migrant visa scheme only 3 individuals made use of it to look for work in the Netherlands. This indicates the limited attractiveness of the highly skilled migrant visa scheme, in its current configuration, for this population group (i.e. from emerging economies). It is possible that more incentives need to be included in the scheme, particularly reducing the cost and effort on the side of the applicants.

Adapted for WeMakeScholars from Ep-Nuffic Blog. EP-Nuffic is the main expertise and service centre for internationalisation in Dutch education, from primary and secondary education to higher professional and academic higher education and research.





Written by

Vinay Nair likes to explore topics related to higher education and looks forward to help prospective students with queries related to their study abroad dreams.


6 thoughts on “This is what alumni say about studying in holland

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