Secretary of Education greets foreign student with open arms

Even though youth unemployment has increased, Secretary of Education Jet Bussemaker wants to encourage international students to stay in the Netherlands after their graduation. She expects it to be good for the treasury.

The secretary wants to put the Netherlands on the map as “a country that acknowledges international talent, and accepts them with open arms”, as the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) advised earlier. Studies show that 64 percent of international Master’s students would like to stay in the Netherlands. In reality, a much smaller part actually does so: SER tentatively estimates that percentage to be nineteen. Still, that’s an annual 740-million euro boost for the economy.

It’s one of the reasons Bussemaker is now taking the lead in setting up a long-term campaign entitled ‘Make it in the Netherlands’. Like SER, she feels it’s important for foreign students to connect with the Netherlands during their studies. They should take a Dutch course, opt for internships more often, and get more help in finding a place to live. The admission requirements could be more lenient as well, provided it doesn’t lead to human trafficking or illegal immigrants.

Bussemaker realizes that welcoming international talent could lead to a crowded labor market. “It’s definitely something we must take into account in these times of increasing (youth) unemployment.” Still, she doesn’t expect too many problems. International students and knowledge workers will probably be recruited for the major financial sectors. Besides, not all knowledge workers have to stay here forever.

The campaign should take shape after meetings with higher education, seven secretaries and organizations of employers, employees, and students.

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