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Pressure to find a job driving away foreign graduates

International students in the Netherlands are quicker to leave after graduation than those in other countries, a recent survey shows. Part of the reason for this is that recent graduates are given less time to look for a job here.

International students could help fill labour market shortages after they graduate. If we can manage to keep them here, that is.

Of the students who came to the Netherlands from outside Europe in 2010, only 12 percent were still living here ten years later. By comparison: in Germany, 45 percent stayed – the highest retention rate worldwide. But according to a recent English-language report by the German organisation DAAD, which aims to internationalise education, many other countries are also outperforming the Netherlands when it comes to retaining foreign graduates.

Nuffic, DAAD’s Dutch counterpart, believes international students in the Netherlands are quicker to leave because they are given less time to find suitable work after graduation. They only have one year to find a job before their residence permit expires, compared to two years in Germany.

Work and housing

Besides the extra time pressure, Dutch work culture also plays a role, Nuffic explains. “Employers often want jobseekers to have a good command of Dutch and there are only so many entry-level English-speaking positions, so there’s stiff competition.”

The situation is compounded by the housing crisis. With many Dutch graduates struggling to find a place to live, the prospects for their international peers are even slimmer, according to Nuffic.


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