International students and Twente companies need to connect more

Twente welcomes many international students every year. They spend a few years here studying in English and often leave the region again after. A shame, according to companies, the UT and Saxion. Much knowledge, talent and potential high-quality personnel is lost with the departure of these international students. The Connect Forward programme was set up two years ago to entice these students to continue living and working in Twente.

In short

  • Connect Forward programme connects Twente companies and international students for a workplace
  • Novel-T, Saxion and the UT cooperate to retain international talent for Twente

Global Goal

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Project leader Bas Olde Hampsink works at Saxion University of Applied Sciences and Novel-T, a company that helps renew existing businesses and create new ones. “Connect Forward is a cooperation between Saxion, Novel-T and the UT. The programme focuses exclusively on international students. They often struggle to find part-time jobs, traineeships or internships at companies here in the region. We help them in this search.”

Different approach

He explains that the programme initially approached students after they graduated. However, this often turned out to be too late. "Students, and perhaps especially international ones, decide where to stay after their studies much earlier. So, to retain them, we must show them what Twente companies can offer during their studies."

But that sounds easier than it is, in his experience. “Matching companies to international students is quite difficult. You have to deal with special regulations, and language is often a problem for companies. We can support companies with the paperwork and the regulations, but it is still often difficult to interest companies in temporarily hiring international students. English-speaking students are in high demand in some fields, such as IT and engineering, which makes finding matches easier. But this does not apply to all fields of study, unfortunately. We have many great companies here in Twente, but we also hear that it is challenging to find good staff. Perhaps the staff shortages are not yet high enough in some sectors?”

Learning experiences

They gained a lot of experience within the programme in recent years. “The UT recently started the minor ‘going Dutch’, in which a lot of attention is paid to the Dutch language and culture, and students do research in a company. We want to integrate this more into the studies of international students at Saxion as well”, he explains. We also learned from a special pilot in which we helped Russian and Ukrainian students find part-time jobs. Thirty students found a temporary place at companies in Twente as a result.

Small successes made it clear to Olde Hampsink that, above all, this mission must continue. “We think things can be done differently and better. That companies and students do have a lot to gain from each other. Twente has a lot to offer. If we can showcase our good working and living climate, it will attract new international students. That is why we are mostly looking at how to best move forward now. Many companies in Twente are still invisible to students. It is important that they get to know each other before students look outside the region. It might help to use a student employment agency to help bring students and companies together. Plenty of ideas to further develop.”

Date: 6 December 2022 |

Source of tekst: Saxion |

Author: Marloes Neeskens

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