Under a new “technology pact” signed by Dutch businesses, educational institutions, unions and government bodies, some 1,000 scholarships will be given to domestic and foreign students annually, both in the higher education and vocational sectors.
“An important part of the solution is to attract and bind more international students to the Netherlands”
The marketing of Dutch education will also be ramped up abroad and internships increased, while technical education in Dutch schools will get more support.
“We are very pleased that the technology pact is signed by so many parties,” a spokesperson from NUFFIC, the national body promoting Dutch education abroad, told The PIE News.
“The ambition of the pact is to help solve the labour market shortages… An important part of the solution is to attract and bind more international students to the Netherlands.”
The number of Dutch students enrolled in science and technology courses is stable, say sources, but around 30,000 technical positions go unfilled each year due to a lack of qualified workers. Retaining more foreign talent would help: some 7% of the country’s 87,000 international students take tech courses, yet only 27% stay on to work in the Netherlands after graduation.
The government has expressed its desire for this to change. However, there are considerable barriers to the goal – one being the comparatively high salary threshold for skilled graduates who wish to enter one of the country’s two post-study work schemes. (PhD and master’s students in the “highly skilled” scheme may stay for up to a year after graduation but must earn €51,239 if aged 30 or over, and € 37,575 if under 30).
61% would be more inclined to stay if it was easier to get a work or residence visa
A 2011 survey of overseas students in Europe’s top five study destinations found that while 43% of those in the Netherlands “felt they had a good chance of finding a job after their studies” – second highest after Germany – 61% would be more inclined to stay if it was easier to get a work or residence visa.
Language was another barrier as only 1.8% of respondents spoke Dutch well.
NUFFIC said it was unsure when the new scholarships would be made available, but that it would have a hand in managing the scheme. It added that it would be making extra efforts to promote the Netherlands’ science and technology sectors overseas through its Nuffic Netherlands Education Support Offices (Nesos).
Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Taipei, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea are flagged as target student markets.