Wednesday 21 April 2021

International students harder hit by corona restrictions, survey shows

Students clustered together while studying outdoors.

Students in happier times. Photo: Depositphotos

The majority of foreign students who have come to the Netherlands to study have been struggling emotionally because of coronavirus measures, a survey by Dutch international education bureau Nuffic has shown.

Over half experienced anxiety, loneliness and boredom during the first half of the academic year when most universities and colleges were closed, while four in 10 experienced feelings of depression. Students from outside the EU were more likely to struggle emotionally than EU students.

Students who were able to physically attend some classes felt more cheerful, the survey showed, and were more inclined to rate their university or hbo and social life.

‘International students are being hard hit by the coronavirus crisis,’ Nuffic director Freddy Weima said. ‘These students don’t have as big a social network in the Netherlands as their Dutch peers and that makes them vulnerable. We know universities and hbo colleges are aware of the problem and trying to remedy it. This survey underlines how necessary this is.’

Recent research showed that among the wider population of students some 30,000 to 35,000 students are not coping well because of the restrictions.

At Tuesday’s press conference no further relaxations of the physical attendance rules were announced for students at unversities and hbo colleges. They can, however, take advantage of the greater possibilities to play sports outside via clubs, prime minister Mark Rutte said.

The concerns that international students have in many cases overlap those of Dutch students. Many do not have a quiet place to study, for example.

Last year, the number of students from outside the EU dropped by 4%. However, more European students signed up for a Dutch university course, taking the total increase in foreign student numbers to 13%, university association VNSU said.

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