THE NETHERLANDS. How to make sure that international alumni don't leave the Netherlands after graduating? The Holland Alumni Network, launched today, aims to help them build up a network. Good for their job opportunities and for the economy.
There is no lack of foreign students at Dutch universities and other institutes of higher education: 112 thousand in fact, more than eleven per cent of the total student population. But they are often caught in an international student bubble and have little contact with the Dutch. But what happens when they need to get onto the labour market?
“There are plenty of organisations for foreign students,” says Anne Lutgerink from internationalisation organisation Nuffic. There is the Erasmus Student Network, for example. “But there wasn't such a network yet for graduates looking for work. Hence the Holland Alumni Network, which is going to organise drinks, workshops and network events.”
A network like that is good for the graduates as well as for the Dutch economy: foreign graduates who stay on here, in time yield about one and a half billion euro, Nuffic had previously calculated.
Worldwide, there were already some 45 Holland Alumni Networks for Dutch people living abroad, but now there is also one for foreigners living in the Netherlands. The alumni network is officially launched tonight, in the Week of the International Student, in the Tivoli Theatre in Utrecht.
Colombian Sandra Rincón, PhD student at Tilburg University, is the network's first chairperson. “We will start off with career cafés throughout the country, where alumni and employers can meet and talk about career opportunities.” Nuffic is going to finance these initial activities, but she is hoping that there will be businesses willing to sponsor the network in the future.
The Alumni Network is not set to become another international bubble, because Dutch students are welcome too, says Rincón. “This network should become a community for everyone who wants to build up an international network and who is looking for a job.”
Is there anything in it for Dutch universities? Erasmus University announced last week that it has received no less than 26 million in donations from wealthy former students. But for the moment, Rincón is not thinking of using foreign graduates as cash cows. “We are just starting out, and want to do something for the alumni first.”
HOP, Matthijs van Schie