The newly created Holland Alumni Network wants to help internationals who graduated to find a job in the Netherlands.
There is no lack of international students in Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences: there are currently 112 thousand, which accounts for over eleven percent of the total student population. But they are often caught in a bubble of internationals and only have limited interaction with the Dutch. What happens when they want to enter the labour market?
‘There are plenty organisations for international students’, says Anne Lutgerink of the internationalisation organisation Nuffic. A good example is the Erasmus Student Network. ‘But such a network did not yet exist for graduates looking for work, and thus the Holland Alumni Network was created. This new network will organise drinks, workshops and networking events.’ Such a network is good for both the alumni and the Dutch economy: international graduates who remain here yield about 1.5 billion euro in the long term, as Nuffic has previously calculated.
There are already about 45 Holland Alumni Networks around the world for the Dutch who are abroad, but now there is also one for internationals in the Netherlands. Last Wednesday, during the Week of the International Student, the alumni network was officially launched at the Tivoli theatre in Utrecht. Sandra Rincón, a Colombian PhD candidate at Tilburg University, is the first Chair of the network. ‘We will start with “career cafés” throughout the country, where alumni and employers can meet to discuss employment opportunities.’ These first activities will be financed by Nuffic, but she hopes that companies will be willing to sponsor the network in the near future.
The Alumni Network is not meant to become a new international bubble, as Dutch students are also welcome, says Rincón. ‘The aim of this network is to create a community for everyone who is looking for work and wants to build up an international network.’ Will Dutch universities also profit from this in any way? Erasmus University Rotterdam announced last week that they have received no less than 26 million euros in donations from wealthy alumni. But Rincón is not thinking of using international graduates as cash cows anytime soon. ‘We have just started, and our first goal is to do something for the alumni.’