Internationals feel excluded from student life in Groningen
Internationals feel excluded from student life
‘We’ve found that the connection between international and Dutch students isn’t always great’, says GSb chair Jan Willem Leeuwma. The union asked 335 students, 189 internationals and 146 Dutch students, to what extent they feel ‘part’ of student life. The investigative report says that Dutch students are much happier with their social life than internationals are. The language barrier makes the latter feel excluded.
More language courses
‘The results aren’t that surprising’, says Leeuwma. ‘It’s been an issue for much longer, but it’s good to have it in writing.’ The GSb has advised the UG and Hanze University of Applied Sciences to work harder to decrease the language barrier for internationals. They feel the schools should offer more language courses, for example. The current ones fill up quickly and are only scheduled at night.
The GSb also feels student associations should do more to welcome students who don’t speak Dutch. A lot of social clubs only speak Dutch, and neither their websites nor their advertisements are available in English. Many of the international respondents said they’d love to join an association, but that there are few options for students who don’t speak Dutch.
While most Dutch students speak perfectly fine English, the respondents did say they can express themselves better in Dutch, which is why they prefer speaking their mother tongue.
Dutch students also feel less motivated to add international students to their friend group, since they’re already part of various social networks. They’ll have friends left over from high school and can easily go back to their parents’ house for a weekend, while international students don’t know anyone here and end up making friends with other internationals who are in the same boat.
GSb says the housing situation that Groningen students face contributes to the gulf between the two groups. Because students don’t all live together on a campus and are responsible for finding their own housing, international students are at a disadvantage. The union has asked the UG and Hanze to reconsider creating campus housing and to in the meantime inform internationals about the ins and outs of interviewing for a room.