International students in the Netherlands are more stressed than ever

While coronavirus has affected us all, one group of people that are suffering the consequences of the pandemic is rarely talked about — international students. A new study finds that most of them experience stress, loneliness, and psychological problems. 

About a quarter of international students in the Netherlands feel little or no joy this academic year. In addition, more than 65% experience a lot of stress, and about a half experience irritation as well as loneliness, according to a study by the Dutch National Student Association (ISO), the National Student Union (LSVb), and ESN The Netherlands and reported in Het Parool

This is hardly surprising. International students come to the Netherlands from countries that are often hours away by aeroplane, not knowing a single person but hoping to make new friends and potentially build a life.

The pandemic version of a student life

Instead, the students spend their school year in a, sometimes less-than-ideal, student room, only ever interacting with the professors and fellow students via a computer screen. 

If that wasn’t enough, restaurants, sports facilities, and cultural institutions have been closed for most of the year, so there’s little opportunity for a life outside the house. 

The government halving the tuition for the next academic year is also not that big of a win, especially if you’re only coming to do a one-year program.

Struggles to find housing

Poor information about housing doesn’t really help the cause either. International students are often discriminated against (you know, those “no internationals” ads on Facebook) and scammed

In addition, many report that they struggle with mastering the Dutch language. As a consequence, they miss out on interactions with local students, as well as potential job opportunities.  

This needs to change

“Many international students are on the brink of collapse. They need help and do not receive enough of it from their studies. We have to change that before the summer,” says the chairman of the Dutch National Student Association, Dahran Çoban. 

The association argues that the Dutch Ministry of Education should monitor the circumstances of international students more closely. 

“We see that the ministry and educational institutions attach importance to international students, but miss the attention to the interests of those students.” 

READ MORE | Take care: five ways to cope with the mental impact of lockdown in the Netherlands

This is quite shocking, as internationals make up about one-fifth of the currently enrolled students at Dutch universities. 

Are you an international student in the Netherlands yourself? How have you been coping the past year? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Jana Vondráčková 🇨🇿
Originally from the Czech Republic, Jana moved to the Netherlands for her studies. She fell in love with the local biking culture, and you’ll see her drifting through the streets of Rotterdam on her pink bike even in the worst possible weather (think rain, snow, hail, or all three). Besides advocating for Rotterdam as the best Dutch city, she likes to wander around with a camera in her hand.

7 COMMENTS

    • Why only for the new academic year only? Because we have to think about all the students also. In this situation almost people around the world had impacted from this covid 19. Especially in economic area. So maybe halving the tuition fee will be very much help for the parents . Thanks

  1. My son is in the Netherlands and has had a terrible year, with no support offered from his University. He is struggling with the constant demands of online lectures and no personal contact. The University has not reached out to their students to check up on them, and given that we are now allowed to travel to visit it has been very hard indeed. He feels the experience has not been worth the cost in any way at all and feels that there has been no support offered to any students, home or international.

  2. My son is in the Netherlands and has had a terrible year, with no support offered from his University. He is struggling with the constant demands of online lectures and no personal contact. The University has not reached out to their students to check up on them, and given that we are not allowed to travel to visit it has been very hard indeed. He feels the experience has not been worth the cost in any way at all and feels that there has been no support offered to any students, home or international.

  3. It is certainly not worth how much we are paying. We have left our support systems and here to get the best education but especially during the pandemic, it’s not monetarily worthy. My father has been affected by the new covid strain in India and the support system I left is collapsing and I can’t do anything about it from here. All I got this year was barely average grade and few email interactions with the few professors who have the time to check their emails. I have not entered any other building other than the library since I’ve been here and I reached here in December.

  4. Im an international student, here and joined last fall. But unlike others who struggled a lot, I was lucky (or blessed I guess). I was fortunate enough to have really nice hall mates in the student housing, plus I wanted to make friends with local people as well and not only hang out with internationals, and manage to make friends with 2 dutch students from my department and they are some of the nicest people Ive come across. Moroever my partner is Dutch, so being able to meet his family and friends also helped a lot. However not everyone has the same exerience, and its really sad for those suffering in silence.

  5. It’s even worse than you report: the halving of fees is said to not apply to non-dutch students: my sons have been studying during lockdown, all online, no fee reduction, no support, and all the stresses you mention.
    Do non-eu students not suffer the same isolation studying in their rooms alone?
    This is a call to all universities to stop seeing international students as the source of fees and not humans trying to study in pandemic times.

    Help us get non-eu students fees halved! Please investigate and report for those paying 10x more than locals.

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