Arnold Enklaar helped create this new Minor, in which international students learn much about the Dutch language and working in our country. “A few years ago, I spoke to a psychology student who came here from outside Europe. He earned his master’s degree with us and was working on his thesis. He liked it here in the Netherlands and wanted to stay after his PhD. But he didn’t speak Dutch and had no idea how a Dutch working environment works. That’s a shame.”
Enklaar saw many cases like this. “Many international students only start thinking about a job in the Netherlands after graduation. But they don’t often succeed when they then start applying for jobs. They don’t know anything about the Dutch labour market, and employers have little affinity with international graduates. We would like for international students to start thinking about whether they want to work in the Netherlands later at an early stage and what it would require of them”, he explains.
The idea for this new Minor started taking shape last autumn. "Two international students from the university council approached our department in the autumn of 2021 and expressed the need for a Minor to learn about the Dutch language and working culture. Céline Schouten-Schlief of the UT Language Centre, my colleague Desiree van Dun and I embraced the idea and worked it out into this Minor in a few months”, he says enthusiastically.
The Minor consists of three modules: Dutch language, working in the Netherlands and a consultancy assignment in a company. The last two modules are both theoretical and practical. The first module includes an intensive language course, which many students struggled with this year. Many failed the language test, so we started with only eight students. Enklaar explains why this language test is essential: "We are convinced that you will not make a career here in the Netherlands if you do not speak the language, so a minimum level of Dutch is indispensable. Many international students think everyone in the Netherlands can speak English because everyone at the university speaks it. But it is not like that in the business community, except for the big multinationals. And certainly not in everyday life. People can speak English, but speaking a foreign language all day is exhausting. You don’t really start to belong until you speak some Dutch.”
The Minor ensures that students gain a lot of knowledge about themselves, their wishes for the future and the Dutch language and culture well before graduation. “This new knowledge and these skills are very useful in their further studies and careers. That is exactly what Minors are meant for; looking beyond the subject of your studies.”
Four women and four men participated. They come from different countries, such as Korea, Bulgaria, Italy and Ecuador. They are very enthusiastic about the classes they have taken so far, according to Enklaar. "And that's great; the business community in our region is desperate for highly educated personnel, especially engineering graduates. The minor was set up to bring international students at the UT closer to the Dutch labour market. The ultimate goal is for more of our valuable international graduates to find jobs in Twente or the rest of the Netherlands. We have already received the first applications for next year. These students can already start the basic Dutch language course right now. Starting earlier will give them more time to study for the test, so we will hopefully be able to start with a larger group in September.”
Date: 14 December 2022 |
Source of tekst: University of Twente |
Author: Marloes Neeskens