Universities like to present themselves as international, but researchers, lecturers, and doctoral students from abroad struggle on average compared to their colleagues who grew up here. The alternate opening of the school year calls for attention to the precarious situation of colleagues who are not from the Netherlands.
Yunus Saramivar will not allow himself to be defeated. Behind the 40-year-old cultural anthropologist from India lies a series of temporary contracts and a retrograde period in Germany. He is now an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Humanities at VU, Amsterdam. all’s well That ends well? “Thanks to people of good will, I have this permanent position. My job is my visa, so I’m staying. But the Dutch academic world is not a healthy environment for employees. If I had the choice, I would really do something else.”
Higher education welcomes the world, but scientists with foreign passports suffer the most from precarious working conditions. They keep coming because English is attractive in the lecture halls, says Joanna Burkert (30, Germany), a third-year doctoral student in Groningen and member of the Employment Conditions Board of Promovendi Netwerk Nederland (PNN). “Anyone who speaks English can get their bachelor’s and master’s degrees here, and the tuition fees are much lower than in the UK or the US. And then you can teach and get a PhD.”
“The Dutch academic world is not a healthy environment for employees. If I had the choice, I would really do something else.”
Arnoud Lagendijk (58), Sector Director for Education and Research at AOb, says that English as an official language does not automatically make the academic community inclusive of international fellows. The chair of the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment at Radboud University has gone through a steep learning curve in seven years. “Previously, it was all about gender balance. Now we are doing our best to give space to scholars from Africa, for example, and insights beyond mainstream Anglo-Saxon literature.”
Lagendijk knows that outside the lecture hall and meetings, the Dutch language has the upper hand. “It is not enough to communicate in international English to receive signals about quality and closeness. In order to get a sense of where we are in the social beehive, we return to Dutch in the corridors.”
Yunus Saramifar noted that the English language often leads to a trend towards scholars and literature from the West. Ness, holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics, but in order to count on the white academic community, he had to get his Ph.D. again here. Both theses revolve around research within armed resistance movements.
“Knowledge and procedures are the same, but my second promotion bears the European seal of approval. When you come here, you quickly learn how the system works, the white academic community makes it clear that you are not good enough if you are educated outside Europe. I had to explain over and over again why I used literature Scientific from global south Or I had to switch to the mainstream way of arguing and writing. I don’t give up easily, but people left our PhD group and others adapted.”
“The white academic community shows that you are not good enough if you are educated outside Europe.”
The difficult situation of PhD students without an employment contract is well known. Dutch universities love these powers, who live on their own money or on scholarships from their home country. PhDs from outside Europe are under the most pressure: they have a four-year grant to conduct research, lend a helping hand and complete the thesis. After that, their residence permit will expire.
Alexandra Kreindelsberger from Austria, a member of the Wageningen PhD Network, and her afflicted colleagues have learned to be patient with the Dutch bureaucracy. “Private health care regulation is very complicated, you cannot pay cash anywhere in the university, as a PhD student with a scholarship, you are not eligible for childcare allowance. I have a non-EU partner, but my allowance was not enough to guarantee his residence permit. Often A solution is found, but it will help a lot if the universities all hire their own Ph.D. This really needs to be arranged at the national level.”
Jing Wang, 30, from China knew what she was up to when she reached out to Radboud University through a doctoral workshop in China – an event where international universities recruit Chinese doctoral students. “My promoter immediately said that the Chinese scholarship of 1,350 euros per month is not enough to live. Thanks to him, the sum of 6,000 euros for the compulsory courses in graduate school came from elsewhere. I live in dorms for my Ph.D., and I do not have the budget for fieldwork, conferences and books. I I accept what is possible, because of Covid, all the research has been done online. The other Ph.D.s from China are finding it more difficult.”
Wang does not feel disadvantaged, although there are cultural barriers. “My colleagues are open and inclusive, but I do not enter their circle of friendship. English is difficult enough, I do not have time to learn Dutch. Of course I would like to have a work contract, proof of my affiliation. Ph.D.s like me were not on the list with the Christmas package. It’s small, but it hurts. The holiday should make everyone happy.”
“My colleagues are open and inclusive, but I can’t get into their friendship circle”
Joanna Rutkowska, 27, from Poland She studied in Scotland but ended up in Nijmegen due to Brexit. She works at the university but fights through PNN against depriving her less fortunate fellow patients. “When you come from a country where the situation is worse, you accept more than home. Fighting back is hard. You are afraid to go back to your country. But just because I’m fighting for something better doesn’t mean I hate Holland. I’m here to contribute.”
Tung Tung Chan from Malaysia is a political advisor at Erasmus University. You see little change since I researched the position of Chinese doctoral students as a master’s student in 2018. Her biggest complaint: poor enrollment of doctoral candidates. “The Hora Finita promotion tracking system is incomplete. We have to rank it nationally, not for every university. Because now we know nothing about dropouts. Everyone I interviewed in my research knew that many PhDs had left because it didn’t work out.” This lack of registration is also hurting the Netherlands. It sometimes happens that people who have incomplete documents for their Ph.D. still pretend to have passed in Western sciences.”
Chan, 32, previously studied and worked in Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Finland and Austria. “Having a national organization for an international PhD would improve their situation, local networks don’t work everywhere. You need each other to learn Dutch, and that shouldn’t cost money to get a PhD. You need to understand what is being said, know what is “Chicken” so you can shop. In other countries where I studied, there were free group language courses.
After receiving her master’s degree, Chan consciously chose a career outside of academia. “Even if you get your Ph.D. in paid work, the salary is not enough to make a good living and you can’t build social capital at all with a scholarship. What if you can’t go out to lunch with a colleague or have a drink at the café? As a policy officer, I I earn twice as much as I earn for my PhD.”
The installation step, a permanent position with periodic evaluation of scientific publications and achievements, is more difficult for a PhD or researcher from abroad than for academics with a Dutch background, Chan sees when applying for grants, grants and bonuses. supports its work. . “Science is culture and socialization. I can compare this to how things work in Finland, Austria and China. I talk about the other way, and fortunately a lot of people in the Netherlands are curious about it.”
Twelve years later, she understood Dutch well, but answered in English. “I want to be able to express myself accurately in this bilingual university.” She decided to stay partly because of her family, but there was still one typical roadblock: She never ended up on an exclusive Dutch Circle birthday through friendship. “I only know that from friends who have an immigrant background or when I’ve been dating someone.”
Next Monday, the AOb will hold the “Real Opening of the Academic Year” in The Hague from 11 am.
Devoted music ninja. Zombie practitioner. Pop culture aficionado. Webaholic. Communicator. Internet nerd. Certified alcohol maven. Tv buff.