Foreign students hardly participate in Dutch student life. Their peer groups consist primarily of other foreigners, according to research of the LSVb (Dutch National Student Union). In Rotterdam there is moderate integration to none at all, states the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Rotterdam.

The National Union’s research among nearly seven hundred foreign bachelor, master and PhD students shows that integration is in disarray. LSVb Chairman Jorien Janssen explains that language is the largest barrier. About sixty percent of foreign students would like to learn Dutch, but language courses are generally too expensive. Learning by doing, specifically by talking Dutch to fellow students, doesn’t really work. For one, conversations quickly switch to English. For two, foreigners get little practice because they are rarely part of a Dutch peer group. A mere 25 percent is a member of a Dutch sports club, fraternity, or sorority. “It is as if Dutch and foreign students are living in two separate worlds,” concludes the LSVb.

“We notice that some students come here speaking only broken English, let alone Dutch,” says Yoshimitsu de Swaan Arons (25), President of ESN Rotterdam. “That actively hinders integration.” But not all international students are ill-prepared, he reckons. “Due to their situation, many international students are very open, social and open minded. The same cannot be said of the Dutch students they meet here during their stay.”

Read the entire article in EM #02, which appears today.