“I don’t really have a plan B”

Maxim: Help! I won’t find a job after I graduate


The number of students registering for programmes at Dutch universities has risen significantly this year, according to the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). The most apparent reason seems to be the feelings of insecurity that the current economic crisis has brought about. Instead of going on a world trip after graduating, many young people seem to be working meticulously on their future careers. Are you afraid you won’t be able to get a job? Or convinced that you will, given that you have a university degree?

“The situation is not nearly as bad as it is portrayed by the media”, says Christoph Meng, senior researcher at the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) at Maastricht University. “In 2008 4% of the graduates who obtained their degree approximately a year earlier (that will say in 2007) were unemployed. And I doubt it will be much more this year.” He emphasises that students shouldn’t adjust their choice of degree to the labour market at this point. “Go ahead and study what you want. And if you want to get a master’s degree afterwards, well, now is the best time to do so.” But doesn’t it inflate the value of a master’s degree, if everyone gets one? “No, not at all. In the past few years we have had a shortage of graduates, which means that, structurally speaking, the situation for higher education graduates is good”.

Anniek van den Berge, currently writing her bachelor’s thesis at the University College, is not really worried. But she does wonder what will happen once she has finished her master’s degree. “I don’t really have a plan B; I think I’ll always be able to find a job. It all depends on how specific your criteria are.” Her plan after graduating from the UCM is already set: “An internship in Argentina and after that a master’s programme – which is what I’d always planned to do. By then, the crisis should be over, right?” So what is the ‘lowest’ job Van den Berge would do, after investing all this time and money in her education? “I wouldn’t have a problem working in a field other than consultancy, as long as I make a valuable contribution to society. But I do have to be able to sustain myself, of course.”

Nick Megelink, who recently started his second bachelor’s degree at the UCM, has no worries whatsoever. “I think I’ve gained enough skills and enough self-confidence to get the job I want.” So why did he not start working after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in International Business? “I wanted to educate myself in a broader sense. But I’m not sure if I’ll stay here. Maybe I’ll start working after all.”



Janina Weser

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