“International students bring knowledge, experience and culture to the Netherlands, but in return they get loneliness, a high workload and a lack of help”, says Lisanne de Roos of the Dutch National Students’ Association ISO.

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56 hours

ISO and the Dutch Student Union LSVb point to the rule that European students have to work at least 56 hours per month – almost two days per week – to qualify for a student grant. “For many students that is impossible alongside full-time studies”, says Ama Boahene of LSVb. “As a result, they can neither get a loan nor earn enough to meet their living expenses.”

The two interest groups have made an appeal to politicians, two days before the House of Representatives debates internationalisation. Reduce the requirement to 32 hours per month, they ask, or one day per week.

Because of the coronavirus crisis European students did not always have to meet the 56-hour requirement. The lockdowns sometimes made it impossible to work sufficiently. In the last two months the rules were more relaxed, but since February that is no longer the case.

Loneliness

LSVb and ISO also refer to the loneliness felt by many international students. They in particular have had a hard time during the coronavirus crisis.

It emerged from a recent survey by Nuffic among a thousand international students that almost 70 percent sometimes felt lonely, to a greater or lesser degree. Almost the same number sometimes (or even always) had to deal with feelings of depression.

The government should do everything possible to keep an eye on these students, in the opinion of ISO and LSVb. “The problems are under the radar at the moment.”