In February, some students might have noticed the EM staff around campus handing out questionnaires about how stressed students feel when it comes to their study programme. The results of the survey have finally arrived, and EM interpreted the SPSS output for you.

The survey was administered by ten universities from various parts of Holland. Comparisons were made between Dutch, EU, and non-EU students, as well as between universities, types of study programmes, gender, and coping mechanisms. The results in some cases are surprising, so keep reading to find out more.


First, the survey gauged how much time students spend going out weekly and how much time they spend exercising. For example, there is a small percentage of students nationwide who go out more than 20 hours a week. Nearly one tenth of international students at Erasmus do so – that’s nearly a part-time job clubbing!  Another extreme activity that almost half (45 per cent) of the EU students engage in is exercising more than three hours per week, compared to the 26 per cent of students nationwide and 28 per cent of the Dutch Erasmus students. A very busy female bachelor student who wants to be anonymous, says that even though she is in two honours programmes and takes more courses than usual, she still finds a way to finish most of her school work during the week, so that in the weekend she has time to exercise and go out with friends. “Of course, I sometimes feel stressed, and the workload here is much more intensive than in my home country. But I eat a lot of chocolate, that’s my drug.”

Weed and Booze

Obviously there are more coping strategies apart from food, and the survey recorded them to find what students do in order to manage their stress levels. For example, Erasmus students, both Dutch and international, struggle with insomnia way less than the national average, and only 24 per cent of internationals worry about their study, compared to 60 per cent nationally. Procrastination can also be a tool to cope with stress by simply ignoring it, but surprisingly only a tenth of the Erasmus students admit to extreme procrastination. This begs the rhetorical question, have you guys never seen the 9gag page? Additionally, international students proved stereotypes wrong in the survey – only 8 per cent of EU and 4 per cent of non-EU students admit to drinking and smoking weed when they experience stress.


Unsurprisingly, the devoted Erasmus female students feel more stress (39 per cent) than guys (22 per cent), but the results also depend on the study that they are doing. At Erasmus, most unfortunate are the communication students (36 per cent feel extreme stress sometimes), followed by social and law studies (both 33 per cent). The most relaxed students seem to be enrolled in economics or management courses, both nationally and at Erasmus University. And overall, our university seems to be giving people less pressure than other institutions. Students of Delft University have the hardest time sleeping, with over half of the respondents indicating extreme stress levels, and Erasmus has the least stressful environment at 32 per cent.

No stress

Erasmus University gets further points, because 60 per cent of its students report being nearly or never stressed while studying.  However, some students think otherwise. Take exchange student Lucy Gordon, a girl from Scotland, who is currently spending a semester in Rotterdam. “I wouldn’t say that I’m stressed, but I definitely have noticed that Erasmus University is much more strict in comparison to my home institution. In Scotland we are kind of left to our own devices, whereas here the deadlines are much shorter and attendance is a lot more strict.” Yet, after settling in and getting used to the rhythm of studying in the Netherlands, Lucy says that the stress and anxieties are gone, in part because the university is very accommodating. She hopes to pass all of her upcoming exams, despite her tendency to procrastinate.   


On a final note, the survey asked students if they were aware of the recently imposed regulations and fines for the “slow” students, who do not manage to obtain their degrees on time. While only 1.5 per cent of the Dutch said that they were not aware, one quarter of the international students said that they are not informed about this. So if you are under too much pressure and think that you might be affected by these rules, contact your study advisor to make sure that you won’t have to pay a fine. Also, if you suffering from extreme stress, impacting the quality of your study results and social life, there is support staff – e.g. psychologists and counsellors – at the university to help you with all your troubles.    MD