‘Student associations should be more welcoming to internationals’
For foreign students, experiencing Dutch culture is an important reason to study in the Netherlands. Student associations are an essential part of that culture. Why is it, then, that most internationals don’t find their way to a ‘vereniging’? According to the National Chamber of Associations (LKvV), student associations should be more welcoming and more accessible to students from abroad.
Hazing rituals, regular drinking and strict mores: the traditions surrounding student associations, or ‘verenigingen’, are an important part of Dutch culture. These typical traditions have even been added to our cultural heritage list. But most foreign students who come to the Netherlands to study, don’t get to experience those traditions. They rarely make their way to a vereniging, the National Chamber of Associations (LKvV) concludes in a new study.
According to LKkV president Arend Klück, student associations should become more ‘international student-friendly’, so that more foreign students will participate in traditional student life: “Being a member of a student association helps international students settle in and participate in the Netherlands more quickly. Student associations don’t have to make any drastic changes to become more accessible to international students.”
Klück is not suggesting that student associations and their clubhouses adopt an English-only policy. There are other ways to engage international students, he says. Dutch members of an association could explain the mores and traditions of the club to new international members, for example. “That way, it will become easier for international students to integrate into the association and into student life in a foreign city.”