Inaccessible language courses, high rents, poor communication from the government and stagnating integration. These are issues that are widely felt by international students in Wageningen, as evidenced on Wednesday evening at a meeting of the new political party Connect Wageningen in Impulse.
© Sven Menschel
Connect Wageningen had convened the meeting to gather ideas for the programme that the party wants to use when participating in city council elections in March 2018. Party member Romy Stijsiger introduced a number of subjects and speakers and then the audience was given the chance to express their views. Students exchanged personal experiences that were sometimes only vaguely related to the subject introduced by Stijsiger. The discussion wove its way through various problems.
The emphasis was on the opinions of international students, which Connect Wageningen thinks are hardly recognized by the city. Those present admitted that they do not always feel as if people take them into consideration. ‘If Wageningen University actively recruits international students, they also have to support them in other areas,’ one of the students stated.
Several of those present said that the Dutch language courses are both expensive and inaccessible. International graduate students also find it very difficult to find an affordable flat. And there is a need for better integration with other students and with the local community. The last topic mentioned was the communication in Dutch by authorities. This is not in keeping with the international character of Wageningen, concluded chairperson Mark Reijerman. ‘The city government has to make it easy for international students to live here.’
The party is going to categorize the problems discussed, draw up a plan and begin discussions with diverse parties. It should be noted that Connect Wageningen is for both international and Dutch students. Stijsiger: ‘We’ll be organizing meetings on various subjects more often in the future to chart which issues are important to students in Wageningen.’