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Netherlands: 38% of students remain five years after graduation

Over a third of all international students who graduated from Dutch universities have remained in the Netherlands five years later, according to a report from EP-Nuffic on the rate of retention of foreign students.

The retention figures are higher among students outside of the EEA, the report says. Photo: Welcome, to work report.

Promoting the Dutch labour market to foreign graduates is a leading tactic in initiatives to retain students

‘Welcome, to work’, produced in collaboration with Bureau Blaauwberg, found that the five-year stay rate of international students from the 2008/09 graduating cohort was 38%, higher than the global average of 25% recorded by the OECD.

Of that cohort, 71% are employed in the country, reflecting the efforts of national campaigns to train foreign talent to enter the labour market.

“Substantial numbers of students come here because of the quality and reputation of the education system, without even a thought of remaining in the Netherlands to work afterwards,” the report notes, but adds that the figures “suggest that a majority of graduates wish to seriously evaluate their prospects in the Dutch labour market, or for further study.”

Promoting the Dutch labour market to foreign graduates is a leading tactic in initiatives to retain students.

Of the 7,350 international students graduating in 2008, 70% were still in the country in October 2009 while two years on, 3,540 students, or 48%, remained.

“A majority of graduates wish to seriously evaluate their prospects in the Dutch labour market, or for further study”

Retention figures are higher among students outside of the EU and EEA, who have free access to the Dutch labour market, the report shows.

“Since [non-EEA students] have already made a big decision, it makes sense that they would put in more effort to stay on after graduation,” it says.

The number of international students has consistently risen in the Netherlands in recent years, with close to 90,000 international student enrolments in 2014/15, up from 70,389 the previous year.

The EP-Nuffic programme, Make it in the Netherlands, aims to show students the career opportunities available once they graduate.

The scheme’s efforts consist of bridging the divide between Dutch and non-Dutch students, helping to connect international students’ studies to a career path and making the Dutch language more attractive to learn for international students.

“An early acquaintance with the Dutch language is essential for a successful start in the domestic labour market,” the report notes.

“We’ve decreased this red tape around finding work and made sure that more information is provided in English”

The programme also aims to increase the scale of regional student retention campaigns, and reduce red tape for students who are looking for work.

“Where possible, we’ve decreased this red tape and made sure that more information is provided in English,” a spokesperson from EP-Nuffic told The PIE News.

“One of the main results was that the possibilities for the so-called ‘orientation year’ in which students are allowed to stay in Holland to look for work has been simplified and elaborated.”

The report also credits higher education institutions for the higher than average stay rate.

“When it comes to increasing the stay rate and retaining international students in the Dutch labour market, to date the institutions have taken the lead,” says the report.

It also makes recommendations of what more could be done to encourage international students to stay in the country post-graduation.

“Increased efforts would benefit, for example, from more regional collaboration and a comprehensive national, social and economic agenda,” the spokesperson said.

“Municipalities, businesses, not-for-profit organisations and higher education organisations should better exploit cross connections.”

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