A quarter of student interns in the NL are used as cheap labour, study finds

Thinking of completing your student internship in the Netherlands? Make sure you don’t get taken advantage of. According to a study by ResearchNed, a quarter of interns in the lowlands are used as cheap labour.

Commissioned by the Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO), the study surveyed 4,900 students completing their internships.

And what did they find? Many companies don’t compensate their interns for the work they are completing, the NOS reports.

In fact, one in four are completing tasks that would be carried out by a regular employee โ€” they’re just not getting paid like one. ๐Ÿ‘€

Cheap labour

The survey revealed that nearly half of the interns were receiving a grand total of โ‚ฌ0 for their work. This was especially the case in sectors such as healthcare and education.

Of those who were receiving compensation, the amount varied greatly.

A significant amount of respondents also felt that too much work was being pushed their way, with 19% saying that they believed too many responsibilities were shifted onto their plate.

Compulsory internship compensation

The ISO is an organisation that represents students in higher education in the Netherlands, and it won’t stand for this treatment.

ISO chairwoman, Lisanne de Roos, tells the NOS that “an internship is your very first experience of the labour market. The personal growth of the student should be central there, and not the profit for the employer.”

READ MORE | Studying in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide

The ISO plans on tackling this issue for students. The organisation will advocate for clarifying the rights of interning students. On top of this, it wants to make internship compensation compulsory in the Netherlands. ๐Ÿ’ช

Have you completed an internship in the Netherlands? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Sarah O'Leary ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช
Sarah O'Leary ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช
Before becoming the Senior Editor of DutchReview, Sarah was a fresh-faced international looking to learn more about the Netherlands. Since moving here in 2017, Sarah has added a BA in English and Philosophy (Hons.), an MA in Literature (Hons.), and over three years of writing experience at DutchReview to her skillset. When Sarah isn't acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her trying to sound witty while writing about some of the stickier topics such as mortgages and Dutch law.


  1. Students go to school to learn. If they want to earn money then they get a job. If part of their learning process requires them to work, they should work without pay thatโ€™s called โ€œeducationโ€œ. Itโ€™s bad enough that there are students who want to be able to go to school without paying for it. Talk about GREED!

    • If I work in a full-time internship (40 hours/week) and don’t get paid, how am I supposed to live? DUO money barely covers the rent with these prices today, so what about basic living needs? And by the time DUO accepts my request, I would be starving and homeless for 3 months (yes, that is how long it took them). I obviously can’t get a second job because that’s insanely exhausting, so what am I supposed to do? Become a beggar? Wait for money to fall from the sky? Think before you speak and try to put yourself in other people’s shoes as well, from time to time.


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