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Wittenborg CEO Maggie Feng Attends National Student Housing Conference
Navigating the Challenges: Student Housing and Education in the Netherlands
On 7 September, Wittenborg's CEO Maggie Feng attended the annual National Student Housing Conference in Utrecht. Organised by the Dutch student housing knowledge centre Kenniscentrum Studentenhuisvesting (Kences), the conference brought together stakeholders from both the housing and education sectors to explore the shortage of student housing in the Netherlands under the theme of 'internationalisation'.
In recent years, the Netherlands has witnessed a significant increase in its international student population, with educational institutions and the labour market recognising the crucial role these students play. However, this surge has posed challenges, particularly a shortage of student housing, impacting educational access and the well-being of Dutch students. This raises a fundamental question: How can we find a balanced solution for this situation?
Reflecting on the conference, Maggie noted, "All conference attendees were eager to learn from each other, seeking ways to address this issue sustainably. While there may be no quick fixes, the intent and positive outlook are evident. Solutions are being sought to benefit both Dutch and international students."
The National Student Housing Monitor Report for 2023
The conference follows the publication of Kences' National Student Housing Monitor 2023 report, which revealed a decrease in the percentage of Dutch students living independently – dropping from 53% to 44% since the introduction of the loan system in 2015/16. This decrease is attributed to both the implementation of the loan system and the persistent student housing shortage. Notably, cities such as Amsterdam, Delft, Eindhoven, Leiden, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, Den Bosch, Utrecht and Zwolle currently face tight housing markets for students.
However, the total number of students living independently has increased compared to the 2015/16 academic year. This can be attributed to the rising percentage of international students – from 9% in 2015/16 to 16%. The report also highlighted that affordability (48%) and housing availability (20%) are significant factors influencing students' decisions to live at home.
Wittenborg's commitment to student housing
Wittenborg is committed to assisting students in finding suitable local housing. In January 2023, Wittenborg unveiled a new student housing complex in Apeldoorn, providing at the very least a short-stay solution for new arrivals in the 75 studios. In addition to Wittenborg's own accommodations, housing options are available through partners who are providing affordable student housing in Apeldoorn.
"We have taken comprehensive measures to ensure accommodation for our students," Maggie Feng explained. Wittenborg's unique feature of offering six intakes per year has also increased opportunities for students to secure suitable housing. "Wittenborg's investment in student accommodation is a testament to our dedication. As a private institution, we are well-positioned to invest in housing solutions for our students."
by Erene Roux
Wittenborg Representatives Making the Most of EAIE Rotterdam
Wittenborg Stand at Event Exhibition Area a Resounding Success
EAIE Rotterdam opened its doors on Tuesday, 26 September, with thousands of participants from various countries attending its vast array of activities. Held at the vibrant Ahoy venue in Rotterdam, this year’s conference has the theme ‘Connecting Currents’.
Wittenborg’s stand (booth D35) at the ‘Study in NL’ pavilion opened yesterday and will be in operation until 29 September, the last day of the event. The school is represented by its president, Peter Birdsall, CEO Maggie Feng, head of the School of Business Rauf Abdul, associate professor and programme coordinator Dadi Chen, Assurance of Learning manager Kriszta Kaspers-Rostás and Process & Quality manager Myra Qiu. Also participating are senior Communications Manager Sinem Dosdogru, senior lecturer Zijian Wang and assistant professor Fahad Shakeel.
By joining EAIE Rotterdam, in addition to networking with other higher education institutions and professionals, Wittenborg aims to increase its visibility and further build brand awareness in the Netherlands, Europe and around the world. To promote the school’s educational products and services to diverse target audiences, the team has developed specific strategies and different materials such as flyers and internally distributed informative materials to keep its representatives up-to-date on the latest Wittenborg developments.
President of Wittenborg Peter Birdsall highlighted the importance of the role played by EAIE (European Association for International Education) for internationalisation in higher education.
“EAIE is a dynamic and international event that fosters discussions on all sorts of topics related to higher education, as well as the exchange of new ideas and perspectives. This attests to the importance of diversity and internationalisation for higher education, at a time when the Dutch parliament wants to push through a new law before the end of the year, drastically reducing the numbers of international students from 2024. The theme for this year’s EAIE conference is ‘Connecting Currents’, and we hope this, together with the international atmosphere of the event, will raise awareness about the crucial role of connection,” Birdsall said.
According to Assurance of Learning manager Kriszta Kaspers-Rostás, the conference has gathered a vibrant community of professionals and academics in higher education. “There are lots of open-minded people to speak to and insightful informative sessions to attend. I have been talking to a great number of people, and many of them are from other parts of the world, such as the USA, Asia and French Guyana. Our Wittenborg stand is quite striking, which makes it easy to invite people over, and I have noticed that more people have recognised us than in previous conferences.”
EAIE Rotterdam’s programme features a great variety of activities including workshops, presentations, networking events, panels and guided visits to the campuses of higher education institutions. Participants have the opportunity to network and seek potential partnerships, as well as gain valuable insights into the latest trends and research in higher international education and topics related to technology, sustainability and marketing.
by Ulisses Sawczuk
Report: Growing Number of International Students Opt to Work in Netherlands After Graduation
A third of international graduates stay in the Netherlands to work
A growing number of international students are choosing to work in the Netherlands after graduation, according to a new report from CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics).
The data reveals that, since 2006, the number of international university graduates has increased considerably. In 2006/07, about 3,000 students got master's degrees, making up 11% of all graduates. By 2019/20, over 12,000 international students earned master's degrees in the Netherlands.
Steady rise in international graduates
Previously, the proportion of international students who stayed in the Netherlands to work remained relatively stable at over 20%. However, among international students who graduated in the 2018/19 academic year, 32% found work in the Netherlands one year after obtaining their diploma, a substantial increase compared to previous years.
According to the CBS, the likelihood of international students finding work in the Netherlands one year after graduation varies by field of study. Notably, graduates in the field of services (e.g., supply chain management) and those in fields like computer science, education, technology, industry and construction tend to secure employment a year later. Conversely, among international students who graduated in other disciplines, the percentage working in the Netherlands one year later falls between 24% and 31%.
Encouraging international graduates to stay and work in the Netherlands
According to the President of Wittenborg, Peter Birdsall, there are various reasons why international students continue to stay in the Netherlands after graduation.
Birdsall says that for non-EU graduates, the Netherlands' "Zoekjaar" (Search Year) visa programme is particularly attractive as it allows them to remain in the country for up to one year after completing their studies to search for employment opportunities.
"This is a great opportunity for graduates to find good jobs that will allow them to stay and build their new lives within Dutch society."
In addition, the country boasts a strong economy and ranks high in global quality of life indices. The Dutch government also offers a tax advantage called the “30% ruling” to highly skilled migrants, allowing them to receive 30% of their gross salary tax-free under certain conditions.
Birdsall further notes that the Netherlands is at the forefront in fields like water management, agriculture and sustainable energy.
"Coupled with its strategic location, networking opportunities and a rich cultural heritage, there are various factors that make the Netherlands an attractive prospect for international students."
Importance of attracting skilled talent
The CBS report comes amid ongoing discussions around the growing influx of international students enrolling in English-taught bachelor's and master's programmes in the Netherlands.
The PIE reports that international students have a high added value for the Dutch economy, especially in the first years after graduation. One of the many benefits is that international students continue to live and work in the Netherlands, subsequently contributing through taxes.
Birdsall told the publication that the country has an urgent need for young, highly motivated and skilled individuals to enter the job market, stay in the Netherlands, raise families and integrate successfully.
"For instance, simply offering a bachelor's in business administration without clear links to future jobs or a programme like psychology without ascertaining whether these graduates could bring something beneficial to society has led to criticism."
In the 2022/23 academic year, almost 123,000 international students were enrolled in universities in the Netherlands or higher vocational education courses. The presence of this international student body, accounting for 15% of the total student population, represents a robust international higher education policy, according to Birdsall.
For him, internationalisation remains vital, "as it’s part of the dynamic of the Dutch.
Higher education is the simplest and easiest way to implement this type of needed immigration. We do feel, however, that it’s extremely important to have a clear profile of the type of students being recruited and what their opportunities are after their studies. The link with business and society, and the impact that international graduates could have in the Netherlands, should be paramount when deciding which programme to offer."
by Erene Roux
Erasmus + funded project INFLUERA successfully accomplishedhttps://www.wittenborg.eu/erasmus-funded-project-influera-successfully-accomplished.htm
Empowering Digital Entrepreneurs and Shaping the Future of Digital Influencing
The INFLUERA project (“Entrepreneurial Toolkit for the Digital Influencer’’ 2021-2-PL01-KA210-YOU-000049841) successfully concluded on 30 June last. We look back at some of the highlights of this innovative initiative that has sought to equip youth with emerging skills needed for success in the digital entrepreneurial sector since its commencement in March 2022.
This EU Commission funded Erasmus+ project brought together Wittenborg alongside three other project partner institutions: Fundacja Eduvibes (Poland), Social Cooperative Enterprise Drosostalida (Greece), and Tum Engelliler Kultur Sanat Dayanisma ve Spor Dernegi (Turkey), to address the development of digital skills for the rising profession of digital influencing among individuals aged from 18 to 30 years.
The primary aim of the project was to promote digital literacy and entrepreneurship skills among young people. As a key theme of this objective, the project focused on developing a collection/e-library of digital influencers, showcasing successful individuals who have effectively promoted their enterprises through digital channels. This mapping aimed to inspire and educate young individuals about the diverse opportunities within the digital world.
The project also successfully created an innovative and accessible training kit that provides valuable information on social media, digital skills and how to effectively leverage these tools for personal branding, entrepreneurship and creating successful digital marketing campaigns. In addition to the training kit, the project recognised the importance of empowering mentors and trainers in the professional development of digital influencers by producing a comprehensive trainers’ handbook. This resource provides valuable insights and guidance for trainers and experts on how to cultivate and nurture the next generation of influencers.
Throughout its duration, the project achieved remarkable milestones that laid the foundation for an entrepreneurial ecosystem with an impact poised to be far-reaching and sustainable in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. During the project, partners and stakeholders were involved in a variety of research tasks, including surveys, interviews and data analysis, which yielded valuable insights into the nature of digital influencing, the outcomes of which are expected to contribute to the development of a skilled and socially responsible generation of digital entrepreneurs.
The training kit and handbook, being available on an open-access online platform, ensure that aspiring digital influencers from anywhere can freely access and benefit from the valuable resources. This accessibility fosters inclusivity and reaches a wider audience, contributing to the democratisation of digital entrepreneurship. Moreover, the virtual and physical partner meetings in Athens, Apeldoorn and the multiplier workshops provided an excellent opportunity for idea exchange, collaboration, strategic planning and networking, while the peer reviews ensured the quality and relevance of the research findings, enabling continuous improvement and adaptation to changing digital landscapes.
At the conclusion of this successful project, all partners look forward to embracing the sustainability of the project's results and anticipate a future where a new wave of socially responsible and skilled digital influencers will shape the digital landscape like never before. INFLUERA stands as testament to the potential of digital literacy and the possibilities it unlocks for the youth in an increasingly digitised world.
For more information on project INFLUERA, please visit https://www.wittenborg.eu/influera.htm
by Arman Toni
Natália Leal Gives Workshop on How to Work on Mental Fitnesshttps://www.wittenborg.eu/natalia-leal-gives-workshop-how-work-mental-fitness.htm
Career & Life Coach Teaches How to Battle Your Saboteurs
On 29 August, Wittenborg organised mental fitness workshops to give
their employees the tools to recognise and assess their mental wellbeing
and that of their colleagues. Career & Life coach Natália Leal
helped participants recognise negative thought patterns that can affect
their mental health. She emphasised that negative thought patterns (or
as she would call it 'saboteurs' because they can sabotage you) can
affect your daily practice and behaviour and influence the mental state
of yourself and those around you. "Everyone has them," she explains
during the workshop, "even though you may not immediately recognise
Saboteurs come in many shapes and flavours and can cause various negative thoughts. For example, the 'Judge' is the most universal saboteur that everyone has, punishing you every time for shortcomings or failures. Other complicit saboteurs include the 'Avoider', which makes you avoid confrontations with your or others' problematic behaviour. "However, you can train yourself to fight your saboteurs," Leal explains during the session. "I advise everyone to do 80 to 100 PQ reps a day to make sure your mind is strong enough to do this."
The aim is to maintain and improve your mental health and train your mental muscles. Leal helps participants train their PQ Rep. PQ Reps refer to training your Positive Intelligence Quotient. 1 PQ Rep, is closing your eyes for 10 seconds, disconnecting your thoughts and focusing on other stimuli such as your hearing, feeling and listening. They can awaken your 'Sage', the positive equivalent of the saboteur. It is a stage of being where you are unaffected by your saboteurs. During these training methods, participants learned how to focus on their surroundings and get rid of their saboteurs. Negative emotions are a warning signal and therefore useful. However, too many negative emotions can be dangerous. By training your PQ Reps and shifting your attention outward instead of just inward, it becomes easier to find your inner sage.
All participants were given a form with questions about their mental health and how they react to certain situations. Based on this form, they got a result on which saboteur belongs to them the most. This is meant to make participants aware of their saboteurs. Participants were placed in groups to discuss their saboteurs and what happened in their past that highlighted it, as well as how it affects their behaviour. They had to work through the five stages of power: Empathise, Explore, Innovate, Navigate and Activate. These Sage Power Games included visualising one's inner child, observing without judging, embracing new ideas, viewing life choices from a future perspective and avoiding self-sabotaging thoughts. These techniques aim to enhance one's sage perspective for personal growth and resilience.
Prioritising Mental Health
By organising this workshop, Wittenborg wants to underline the importance of prioritising the mental well-being of its faculty and staff. Statistics of 2018 showed that 17% of the employees in the Netherlands experienced burnout-related problems, making psychological problems the second most common cause of work-related absenteeism, after illnesses such as flu and colds. Of female employees, 7% attributed their absenteeism to psychological problems, overwork or burnout, while the corresponding figure for male employees was 5%. Wittenborg places a strong emphasis on the mental health of its employees, and workshops like this one will provide participants with tools and techniques to maintain good mental health. And that pays off, as last year's preventive medical examination showed that participants from Wittenborg report low high capacity and a lower risk of burnout.
"The workshop was really useful and insightful and most of us don't prioritise it because we are saturated in the daily pattern," says participant and EU project manager at Wittenborg, Aydan Holtrigter. "Many things contribute to my mental fitness while being self-aware. And I enjoy meeting my wiser self. I also enjoy getting to know my colleagues and discussing these things in a small group."
Education & Research Administrator Selina White was also very enthusiastic about the workshop: "I think it was a really useful session," she says. "And it was really nice to reflect and exchange experiences with colleagues about mental fitness, but also about inspiration and how to develop it. It's really important to develop our well-being and I hope for more sessions like this for staff and students."
Natália Leal sees great value in her sessions to help
participants gain self-confidence and shine on and off the shop floor:
"I hope participants learn to be confident that you can get the best out
of yourself," she says. "I think these sessions are important for
by Niels Otterman
Wittenborg Representatives Visit Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe
Michael Sheppard and Sam Kalya Promoting the School in Africa
With the goal of promoting Wittenborg in Africa and networking with
local student agencies and schools, Recruitment & Sales
representatives, Michael Sheppard and Sam Kalya visited three of the
continent’s countries last month. Between 7 and 18 August they went to
Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, having been to the nations’ respective
capitals of Kampala, Kigali and Harare.
The two representatives had over 20 meetings with student agents during this period and also visited two schools per country, where they talked to career advisors and did presentations to the students. The latter focused on topics such as life in the Netherlands, the courses offered by Wittenborg and how the school works.
Sheppard described the trip as a dynamic, intense and exciting experience, adding that its outcome was very positive and that both the students and agents from all three countries showed lots of enthusiasm about the Netherlands and Wittenborg.
“The students see the Netherlands as a well-developed country, with a very high standard of living, and which has a lot of business and life opportunities. They perceive it as a place where they can go to in order to fulfil their potential. When it comes to Wittenborg, they see it as a really internationalised school that gives them really good opportunities to understand business in a global way and to understand people in a global way as well. So, our goal and challenge is to take people’s enthusiasm, which is already there, and turn it into many people actually following through and ultimately coming to Wittenborg,” he commented.
According to Sheppard, the fact that Kalya is originally from Uganda as well as a Wittenborg alumnus enabled him to connect with the students. “Sam was there to learn the process, and his main contribution was firstly organisational, because he organised the school visits. But he also helped by being able to connect with the students that we met, because as a Wittenborg graduate from Uganda, he could offer them a unique perspective and invaluable insights.”
Among other topics, the students asked questions about what life in the Netherlands is like on a day-to-day basis, as well as how easy it is to make friends at Wittenborg. “We highlighted that making friends at Wittenborg is very easy because the school has a small number of students and a family atmosphere. The students are often concerned about their happiness, of course, so we made sure to mention that the Netherlands is one of the top 10 happiest countries in the world,” Sheppard underlines.
Kalya highlighted that this was the first time he had travelled internationally with the purpose of promoting an organisation. “At first, I was a little nervous about it, but going with Michael on this trip really helped me because I was able to learn a lot from him. He has represented the school in different parts of the world, and I loved his confidence and his style of presentation. He continuously engaged me in the process as he asked me to share my perspectives as a former African student at Wittenborg. This helped build my confidence, as well as my presentation, networking and communication skills, and I am grateful to Michael for being such a wonderful guide.”
The Wittenborg graduate added that, during their presentations, Sheppard and he brought attention to the fact that the Netherlands has the largest proportion of fluent English speakers outside anglophone countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. “This helped increase the interest of the student agencies and schools we engaged with, and I believe that it will contribute to attract more students from those three countries to Wittenborg,” Kalya concluded.
by Ulisses Sawczuk
Prof. Rodria J. Laline Navigating WUAS Students through Governance Dilemmas
"Navigating systemic change requires radical moves by those responsible for leading."
Born in Bandung, Indonesia, and living in Yogyakarta, Wittenborg
guest lecturer Professor Rodria J. Laline has had an extraordinary
journey that has shaped her perspective and expertise. Her extensive
educational background, professional achievements and dedication to
corporate governance have made her a much sought-after figure in the
Laline is a founding member of IMDBOND and has held several leadership positions in global research and development collaborations with renowned companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle Corporation, ING Bank, Koninklijke KPN, Groupe Bull, Elsevier Science, Siemens and Philips. During her career, she has been actively involved in global field operations and served as CEO of the Japan and Asia-Pacific divisions of leading companies. She has also brought her expertise to various industries including industrial, consumer, financial services and real estate through various board positions.
Besides her professional achievements, Laline is one of the founders of Intrabond Capital and an alumnus of IMD Switzerland. She holds several board positions, demonstrating her extensive experience and knowledge in the field of corporate governance. Her educational background is equally impressive, with a PhD in chemical physics. Moreover, she is recognised as a visiting professor in governance and strategic management. Her commitment to excellence is further evidenced by her certification from the American Association of Corporate Board Directors (NACD) in the role of boards in strategy and risk.
During her guest sessions, Prof. Laline provides students with valuable insights into the managerial dilemmas often faced by decision-makers. She emphasises the urgent need for systemic change in leadership to secure the future. This change goes beyond superficial adjustments and requires a profound shift in the fundamental structures, values and paradigms that shape societies and organisations. She stresses the importance of moving away from vertical governance hierarchies and embracing horizontal trust relationships. "Navigating systemic change requires radical moves by those responsible for leading," she explains. "Leaders must change their way of thinking and create a mindshift to successfully deal with this new reality."
Prof. Laline treasures the experiences she has gained throughout her life. She has lived and worked in more than 20 countries and has been immersed in 16 different cultures. She appreciates the profound impact these experiences have had on her personal and professional growth. "Every international adventure, every encounter with different cultures and people has contributed to the mosaic of my existence," she says. "These experiences have fuelled my insatiable thirst for knowledge, opened my mind to new perspectives and nurtured a deep appreciation for the beauty of our world's diversity. I am both humbled and inspired by the opportunity to explore unknown territories, both geographically and intellectually."
by Niels Otterman
Dutch Government Makes Study Financing More Accessible to EU Students
New Regulation Reduces Monthly Required Work Hours from 56 to 32
Citizens from Switzerland and European Union countries who are studying in the Netherlands are no longer required to work for 56 hours per month in order to be eligible for Dutch study financing. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands recently lowered the requirement to 32 hours per month, in line with a recommendation made by the Central Appeals Tribunal.
During the judgment of a lawsuit put forward by a Portuguese student, the tribunal found that the former 56-hour requirement was too strict. The court also noted that there was no legal basis for it, as European law has no fixed norm regarding this matter.
As a result, since 1 September, EU students who live in the Netherlands and work 32 hours per month are eligible to get study financing. Its value is equivalent to the basisbeurs available to Dutch students – that is, €110 per month for students who live with their parents and €439 per month for those living on their own. Additionally, the incentive also includes discounted rates or free access to public transportation.
Although 32 hours per month is the new requirement, there are exceptions, and students who can demonstrate that they have worked for 24 hours a month for more than six months are also eligible for the benefit. It is worth mentioning that if students obtain their diplomas within 10 years, the basic grant becomes a gift.
According to the president of Wittenborg, Peter Birdsall, the change to the requirement is positive, because working 56 hours a month while pursuing a full-time study programme can be detrimental to students. “The new requirement of eight hours a week combined with a full-time study programme is doable. So, I am very happy with it and I think it is a really great opportunity because European students want to work but they also want to study and graduate at the same pace.”
Birdsall points out that Wittenborg has recently launched a scholarship aimed at Dutch students and EU students of other nationalities (EEA) and also Ukraine, which amounts to €5,000 per year and considerably reduces their tuition fees to €4,800. He adds that although some members of the Dutch parliament have criticised the government’s study financing policies, these measures are very positive for the country. “Although eight hours a week is the minimum, most students will work more than that. The minimum amount will be done only by the top students who really do not want to spend too long over their studies. On top of that, if students are required to work a high number of hours, they will be delaying their graduation, which means society will be paying more to sustain them in the long term.”
The president of Wittenborg concludes by highlighting that, in line with its core values, the school considers internationalisation essential to the Netherlands. “We are very happy about this new regulation and also about the fact that Chinese students are no longer required to obtain a Nuffic certificate before applying for a long-stay visa (MVV), which was a discriminatory policy. We see these measures as positive moves for international higher education in the Netherlands.”
by Ulisses Sawczuk
Wittenborg Emeritus Professor Publishes New Book
New Extended Version of “Sustainable Value Creation” by Dr Teun Wolters Released by Springer Nature
Originally published by WUAS in 2013, the book “Sustainable
Value Creation” by Wittenborg Emeritus Professor of Applied Sciences Dr
Teun Wolters has brought out >a significantly revised and updated version, released by Springer Nature last July.
While parts of the original book remain, Wolters has included recent literature and new perspectives in the second version. The book has eight chapters on different topics, such as the role of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) in sustainable business, sustainable supply chain management, sustainability accounting, corporate governance and the circular economy.
The Emeritus Professor says he was already working on the first version of “Sustainable Value Creation” when he joined Wittenborg. There, he developed the school’s MBA module on corporate sustainability. According to Wolters, writing the book helped shape the module.
“The first version of ‘Sustainable Value Creation’ was more of an elementary book to teach students the basic aspects of sustainability. But of course, as time passed, I gained more knowledge and insights and published more, so this follow-up is at a higher level of professionality and academic research. It gives a broad view of all the elements a company needs to consider to become a sustainable organisation.”
The author adds that the book's target audience comprises students, researchers, companies and professionals. “One of my core arguments is that CFOs and other financial professionals must be heavily involved in sustainability because, in quite a few companies, the financial staff will have a big say in the final decisions regarding investments. But the problem is that the models they use are often outdated if you think of what is needed for sustainability. So, the book calls for corporate financial officers and controllers to start playing a major role in leading a company towards being sustainable because if you do not invest in this area, that can endanger the company.”
The Need for a Well-being Economy
Additionally, “Sustainable Value Creation” is aimed at being a general treatise on sustainability. Wolters stresses that although significant theoretical and practical developments concerning sustainability have been achieved over the last decades, companies and society at large are still lagging behind.
“The concept of sustainable development was introduced by the United Nations’ publication ‘Our Common Future’ in 1987. It was an attempt to integrate development cooperation – which takes into account especially the needs of developing countries – with a better management of the environment, that is, in a sustainable way. Sustainable development became quite popular because it gave companies the argument that growth was still on the agenda, often forgetting severe caveats. But now the facts show that we need to depart from continuous, endless economic growth because of its ecological limitations.”
“The idea is that society needs to adopt healthy practises, even if they involve less or no economic growth. That could be, for example, investing less in transportation networks because you have more food or other items produced locally. This means less money earned but more welfare for people and benefits for nature. But there are also instances in which we must develop new products and services, and that could cause an increase in monetary income. In all cases, growth must be neither a priority nor a major indicator of success.”
Wolters highlights the importance of entrepreneurs for the well-being economy because, under the right ethical approach, and by employing ingenuity and creativity, they can offer innovations and solutions to major issues. He adds that when it comes to higher education, sustainability must be approached in an integral way so that students leave school with a solid knowledge of the subject.
“Although I support the idea of following the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, there is the danger of a fragmented approach: when you take a few indicators, you may give a lot of attention to them and forget other crucial issues. So, we need an integral approach, ensuring that all students who leave school have a solid knowledge of sustainability because they are the future,” the emeritus professor concludes.
by Ulisses Sawczuk
Chinese Students Applying for Dutch HEIs Now Exempt from Nuffic Certificate Requirement
Policy Abolished by Dutch Government after Nearly 20 Years in Place
The Dutch government has recently eliminated a bureaucratic procedure that required Chinese students wanting to study in the Netherlands to obtain a Nuffic certificate before they could apply for a long-stay visa (MVV). The measure had been in place for almost 20 years, since February 2004, with the stated purpose of ensuring that applicants from China possessed a sufficient level of English to pursue English-language programmes at Dutch schools.
However, this policy had been considered discriminatory since no students of other nationalities were required to obtain the Nuffic certificate prior to submitting their applications. Moreover, the Code of Conduct for International Students in Dutch Higher Education, implemented in 2006, already establishes English-language requirements for international students who want to pursue their education in the Netherlands.
President of Wittenborg Peter Birdsall explained that the numbers of Chinese students moving to the Netherlands to study saw a significant increase between the late 1990s and early 2000s. Back then, Dutch higher education institutions were not prepared to deal with such a large influx, and there were no regulations in place regarding the required level of English language proficiency for international students.
“It was around that time that the Netherlands Education Support
Offices (NESOs) were set up to provide support to Nuffic, the Dutch
organisation for internationalisation in education. The first official
NESO was opened in Beijing, in the summer of 2000, to promote Dutch
higher education institutions in China. Because the number of Chinese
students coming to the Netherlands was rising very rapidly and many of
them could not speak English well enough back then, the Dutch government
decided to implement this screening policy in line with the concerns of
the immigration services,” Birdsall highlighted.
According to the president of Wittenborg, that was the first statutory requirement introduced by the Dutch higher education system concerning an English proficiency level. At the time, Chinese students had to go to NESO Beijing to go through the process, which checked the validity of their English-language certificates – such as TOEFL and IELTS – as well as their high school diplomas and other documents.
Despite the introduction of the Code of Conduct for International Students in Dutch Higher Education in 2006, which established English-language requirements for students of all nationalities, this measure remained in place.
“For this reason, we at Wittenborg saw this policy as discriminatory toward Chinese students, and we did complain to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands many times over the years. We also had doubts about whether NESO was being fair in its treatment of the different schools because there were reports that the NESO office in Beijing might be encouraging students to go to public higher education institutions, and specifically research universities. So, we had multiple meetings with the office’s different directors over the years in Beijing,” Birdsall points out.
Over the last three years, in order to reduce costs, Nuffic has been gradually closing all of the NESOs – the idea is that these offices will be completely phased out by the end of 2023. Following the closure of NESO China in 2021, Chinese students' applications for the certificate were processed in the Netherlands by other organisations associated with Nuffic.
Finally, in mid-2023, the Dutch government quietly abolished the
policy and exempted Chinese students from the certificate requirement.
Birdsall highlights that in addition to the end of NESO, which made the
process even more cumbersome, the fact that China has evolved to become a
developed country in many aspects also influenced the government’s
“For over 20 years, this policy was seemingly used as a way to control and direct Chinese applicants, but as time passed it lost its purpose. China has developed significantly and now it is not a country one has to be worried about when it comes to mass immigration. We are extremely pleased that the Dutch government has finally decided to give up this very discriminatory regulation for Chinese students wanting to study in the Netherlands. It is a positive move, finally, after all these years,” the president of Wittenborg concludes.
by Ulisses Sawczuk