radboud university international staff and student - ANS

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RADBOUD UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL STAFF AND STUDENT
MONITOR
2013-2014
University Council Internationalisation Taskforce:
Esra Hageman (USR)
Daniela Patru (OR)
Dorian Schaap (OR)
Stefan Vermaat (USR)
April 2014
Acknowledgements
Several people proved invaluable while conducting this study and writing this report. We would like to
thank the Radboud University International Office, in particular Marian Janssen, Judith Arns, and Inge
Snoeijen, for their assistance with the conceptual as well as the practical issues we encountered. The
many representatives of the PhD Organisation Nijmegen (PON), as well as Radboud International
Students (RIS), Radboud UMC Postdoc Initiative and DPO/RPN did a great job helping to distribute
our survey. Marian van Bakel gave feedback and suggestions on the construction of our
questionnaire, while several international students and employees were kind enough to test it. Our
colleagues in the Works Council and Student Council were supportive and gave input whenever we
asked for it.
Finally, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to the hundreds of international students
and employees who not only personally make this university more international every day, but who
were also willing to fill in the questionnaire and often provide additional comments and feedback. We
are especially grateful to the students and employees who enthusiastically participated in our focus
groups and greatly contributed to the eventual report.
2
Executive summary
Internationalisation is a highly important policy area for Dutch universities, including Radboud
University, as stressed in its latest policy paper on internationalisation. However, we currently lack
information on how international students and employees perceive the university and what problems
they encounter. This information is essential for informed policy-making.
The present study, conducted in a shared effort by Radboud University’s Student- and Works
Councils, addresses this knowledge gap by examining the attitudes of international students and
employees at Radboud University through focus groups and a large-scale survey. Previous research
on the subject emphasised the importance of integration of international students and staff in
university and society alike, leading to higher levels of happiness and productivity. This also proved to
be a vital issue for Radboud University’s international students and employees. Both groups tend to
spend their social life mainly with other international peers, creating a so-called “international bubble”.
At the same time, they express a strong desire to extend their network to Dutch peers.
The most attractive ways to achieve this goal, according to international students and staff, is firstly by
extending the buddy programme, which is currently only available to a small number of students.
Secondly, by making sure that everyone can participate in the university’s orientation days. Thirdly, by
stimulating the involvement of internationals in student and employee organisations. For staff, the
notion of a special university expat organisation proves particularly popular, with more than half of
them indicating they would be likely to become involved. An additional way of improving integration
would be to stimulate the mixed housing of Dutch and international students.
A second salient issue for both international students and staff is the use of language. Many of them
do not speak Dutch, yet a substantial part of the university’s formal and informal communication is not
conducted in English. Solutions can be found in translating all formal communication to English,
further enhancing the university’s information to international students and staff, and improving the
possibilities for Dutch language courses. In general, information and support (for example regarding
the International Office, housing, study advisors, or various university webpages) could be extended
and focused more on an international audience. This especially holds for information about student
rights.
We recommend Radboud University to focus its policies on these subjects in the 2014-2018 period
and propose regular assessments to monitor developments. Any further queries, requests, or
suggestions can at any time be e-mailed to [email protected]
3
Table of contents
1.
Introduction .................................................................................................................... 5
2.
Theoretical background.................................................................................................. 6
2.1.
Research reports addressing international students................................................ 6
2.1.1.
LSVb – International Students in the Netherlands ............................................ 6
2.1.2.
International Student Barometer 2012 ............................................................. 6
2.2.
Research reports addressing international staff ...................................................... 7
2.2.1.
Expat Explorer Surveys ................................................................................... 7
2.2.2.
In touch with the Dutch .................................................................................... 7
2.2.3. Feeling at home? Facilitating expats in the process of settling, working and
living in the City Region Arnhem Nijmegen .................................................................... 7
2.3.
3.
4.
Summary ................................................................................................................ 7
Methods ......................................................................................................................... 9
3.1.
Data collection methods .......................................................................................... 9
3.2.
Sample characteristics ............................................................................................ 9
Results ......................................................................................................................... 11
4.1.
Integration ............................................................................................................. 11
4.1.1.
Cultural integration ......................................................................................... 11
4.1.2.
Buddy programme ......................................................................................... 13
4.1.3.
Orientation ..................................................................................................... 15
4.2.
Support ................................................................................................................. 16
4.2.1.
Support in general ......................................................................................... 16
4.2.2.
Study advisors ............................................................................................... 17
4.2.3.
Student information ........................................................................................ 18
4.2.4.
Grading .......................................................................................................... 18
4.2.5.
Housing ......................................................................................................... 19
4.3.
Use of English....................................................................................................... 20
4.3.1.
Communication, facilities, and services.......................................................... 20
4.3.2.
Dutch language courses ................................................................................ 23
4.4.
Overall opinions .................................................................................................... 26
5.
Conclusions ................................................................................................................. 27
6.
Recommendations ....................................................................................................... 28
References ......................................................................................................................... 30
Appendix ............................................................................................................................. 31
4
1. Introduction
In 2013, Radboud University counted more than 2000 international students and exchange students.
Furthermore, 23% of all academic staff was international. The number of expats and international
students studying and working at Radboud University increases every year, and thereby greatly
contributes to an international climate at the University. As Bevis (2002: 3) points out, “international
students are not only a valuable financial asset to universities in developed countries, they are
individuals who also enrich these countries with their diverse heritage and perspectives, thus, serving
to increase cultural awareness and appreciation”. Radboud University's Executive Board has also
stressed the importance of internationalisation and increasing the inflow of international students and
staff. In a report presented in July 2013, the Executive Board proposed an ambitious strategy to
improve internationalisation at Radboud University between 2014 and 2018. Based on three pillars,
the Board plans to enhance internationalisation on all levels of the organisation: research, education
and operational management. The 2018 targets involve a 25 percent increase for study and internship
inflow, and a 5 percent increase for international staff. Overall, international students and staff are
quite central in the goals set for the next few years.
Studying and working in the Netherlands, however, does not always turn out to be easy.
Previous studies have pointed out that the integration of expats and international students in the
Netherlands seems to be a serious problem. We run the risk of having an ‘international bubble’ as
expats and international students seem to have little contact with their Dutch environment. This is
undesirable for the expats and students, who thrive not only in a good study climate or professional
environment, but also need social contacts. At the same time, native Dutch students and employees
miss out on opportunities to live in an international environment.
Although Radboud University considers internationalisation to be highly important, we
currently lack knowledge on the perceptions and opinions of international students and staff. Some
international student surveys have previously been conducted, but information on staff is missing
altogether. In gathering information about both students and staff, we can find similarities and
differences. Moreover, previous assessments take either a quantitative (survey) approach, or a
qualitative one (via focus groups or in-depth interviews). We combine both methods, by using focus
groups to chart the most relevant issues for international students and staff, and subsequently
distributing a survey to find out how wide-spread these concerns are.
This report is the result of an initiative by the University Council (consisting of the Student
Council and the Works Council), and aims to gain insight into the experiences of international staff
and students. What is it like to be an international, working or studying at Radboud University? In the
course of our research, we gathered information about many aspects of being an international
employee or student at this university, on what goes well and what could, in their view, be improved.
In the next sections, we will first address the theoretical background and existing studies on the
subject. We then address our methods, before proceeding to the focus groups and survey results.
Based on these results, we draw conclusions regarding the perceived state of internationalisation at
our university and provide several policy recommendations for the benefit of Radboud University and
other relevant parties.
5
2. Theoretical background
Several studies have proven that successful stays abroad depend on a good social integration, both
for international students and staff. Among the relatively few studies addressing the experiences of
international staff, Bhaskar-Shrinivas et al. (2005) have shown that adjustment to life in the new
country is essential when moving abroad because it affects the success of the international
assignment. In the case of students, Lewthwaite (1996) describes the experiences of a group of
international students as they were adjusting to their new academic culture and social environment.
His respondents reported experiencing feelings of frustration and misunderstanding, due to the
mismatch between their own culture and that of their host country. There were no indications that
‘disintegration’ had occurred, but their reactions seemed to fit in the intercultural communicative
competence model (Redmond & Bunyi, 1993), which shows that stress and lack of adaptation result
from communication gaps that are caused by language problems. In particular, “interviews showed
that the inability to deal with misunderstandings and to empathise with host students, along with an
inability to establish interpersonal relationships resulted in slow social integration” (Lewthwaite, 1996:
182).
Rienties, et al. (2012) confirm and expand Lewthwaite’s (1996) findings in a Dutch context, by
investigating how academic and social integration relates to academic performance among
international students in the Netherlands. Their study identifies the underlying factors for students’
successful or unsuccessful integration and academic performance. They categorised students
according to their ‘degree of Westernness’, leading to four distinguished groups: Dutch, Western,
mixed-Western, and non-Western. One of the major findings in their research is the correlation
between the success of academic and social integration among international students and the fact
that the further away from ‘the West’ they originate, the more they culturally differ from Dutch
students.
It is important, therefore, that international students and staff feel at home, a fact which
Radboud University also recognises in its most recent policy document on internationalisation
(Radboud University International Office, 2013: 7). This raises the question of how best to pursue that
goal. Several reports have shed light on this challenge, and we give an overview of their findings
below.
2.1. Research reports addressing international students
2.1.1.LSVb – International Students in the Netherlands
The Dutch Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB, 2012) reports that it can be highly profitable if
international students remain in the Netherlands after graduation. International students are more
likely to stay if they have built up personal relations with the Netherlands and feel at home during their
first stay. With this in mind, the Dutch national student union (LSVb, 2012) distributed a survey
among international students at different Dutch universities, in order to gauge their
experiences. Based on their survey, the LSVb mainly emphasises the importance of international
students’ integration.
According to the LSVb report, integration can mainly be achieved through
interaction with Dutch students. Important aspects to establish this interaction are living together with
Dutch roommates, being involved in a buddy program, and being able to speak some Dutch. Those
aspects all help to overcome 'cultural differences', which are pointed out to be the main problem in
integration.
Furthermore, the buddy system does not function perfectly in any university, although at
different universities it is regarded as very useful. In language-related issues, steps can be taken as
well. International students often receive Dutch letters, or meet teachers who speak Dutch. This
contributes to a sense that international students are not always treated the same as Dutch students,
leading to little or no contact between international and Dutch students and the creation of an
“international bubble”.
2.1.2.International Student Barometer 2012
The International Student Barometer shows that Radboud University scores average on ‘living
overall’. Generally speaking, Radboud University scores very high on virtual and technical facilities.
On multiculurality, however, it scores quite low. Particularly German students rank the university
very low on multiculturalism, employability, work experience and language support in English
courses. The grading and assessment systems are not transparent. De sports centre is ranked best in
the Netherlands. The campus environment again scores very high on facilities, but quite low on ‘Living
6
overall’, since Dutch is often used in both official communication and facilities, and 'making Dutch
friends' seems to be a great problem. The International Student Barometer also reports that Radboud
University’s international students are not satisfied with the support they receive from their study
advisors.
2.2. Research reports addressing international staff
2.2.1.Expat Explorer Surveys
The Expat Explorer is an annual survey aimed at gathering information about the opinions of expats
living in the Netherlands, both regarding their current situation and their plans for the future (HSBC,
2012). While respondents in the Netherlands are generally enthusiastic about the organisation of the
country and the overall quality of life (health care, entertainment, public transport, sports, work/life
balance, raising children), they are quite negative about setting up, making local friends, their social
life, and getting used to the culture.
Compared to other European countries, expats living in the Netherlands are much more likely
to return to their country of origin instead of staying here indefinitely. Considering the findings of the
Expat Explorer Surveys, it seems that we have a lot to gain by making international employees feel at
home.
2.2.2.In touch with the Dutch
Referring to the results of the Expat Explorer Surveys, the dissertation ‘In Touch with the Dutch’ (Van
Bakel, 2012) also notes that one of the most important causes of expatriate failure is cultural
difference. Highly relevant for our purposes, the author proceeds to ask how to improve interaction.
One of the possibilities of improving expat interaction with the Dutch is through hosts. This is a form of
buddy systems in which expats are matched with a local host for a period of about nine months.
Contact with a host was found to have a positive impact on the private domain of the expat:
expats reported fewer problems with adjustment to the local culture, increasing intercultural
communication, and more positive perceptions of social support.
Additionally, the dissertation notes that, although a host system does not work for everyone,
there is no evidence of a negative impact. Providing expats with a local host is therefore a low-risk
intervention: “baat het niet, dan schaadt het niet”. Considering this, it would be interesting to study
whether there is a demand for hosts or buddies among Radboud University’s own international
employees.
2.2.3.Feeling at home? Facilitating expats in the process of settling, working and living in the
City Region Arnhem Nijmegen
An important policy goal of local governments in Arnhem and Nijmegen is “attracting and embedding”
an increasing number of foreign knowledge workers. The “embedding” part is especially important,
since keeping expats in the Netherlands and making them feel at home proves to be difficult. In this
sense, the study by Research voor Beleid (2008) confirms previous findings.
Expats at universities (including Radboud University and Wageningen University) were overall
content with the support they received from the university in the areas of visa, work permits, health
insurance, and social security. They are much less happy with the extent to which their employer
helps them in terms of establishing their life in the Netherlands. This includes arranging
accommodation and day care, and help with tax issues. They are generally happy with the quality and
content of their work, as well as with the scientific climate. However, they do note the lack of an
international climate. They also have issues with the availability of governmental forms, documents,
and websites in English.
Although university expats are satisfied with the availability of leisure facilities in the region
and generally indicate that they are content with social contacts at work, they lack contacts with Dutch
people in their lives outside work, in the neighbourhood and their social life on the whole. More
specifically, they find contact with Dutch people in day-to-day life relatively easy, but consider it
difficult to make Dutch friends.
2.3. Summary
Although the reports above have different purposes and levels of analysis, we can discern roughly the
same findings regarding international students and staff in the Netherlands:
Life for expats and international students in the Netherlands is generally well-organised and
pleasant in terms of paperwork and bureaucracy;
7
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There is enough to do in terms of leisure and activities;
Expats and international students have difficulty feeling at home in the Netherlands. It is hard
to find housing, to get accustomed to Dutch culture, to get to know people on more than a
superficial level, and to make Dutch friends;
The use of communication in Dutch, for example forms, websites, and spoken
communication, is sometimes a problem;
It is very difficult to keep international staff and students in the Netherlands for a longer period
of time;
The studies described in this section provided several suggestions on how to overcome these
difficulties, which could also be relevant for the international students and staff of Radboud University.
Our own report adds to their findings by examining the current problems encountered by our
international students and staff, and also what solutions they consider to be attractive.
8
3. Methods
3.1. Data collection methods
Four one-hour focus groups were conducted in November and December 2013: two with students,
with a total of 28 participants, and two with staff members, with a total of 22 participants. A topic list
was used to guide the open discussions. Invitations were sent to mailing lists provided by the
International Office (IO) and the central human resource department (DPO).
Based on both the focus groups and on additional comments we received through e-mails
from people who wanted to be involved but could not attend the meetings, we picked the most salient
issues for both international students and staff and constructed two different, but partially overlapping
questionnaires: one for each group of respondents. The rationale was that the focus groups provided
us with the most important topics and some illustrations of problems that could arise, and that the
large-scale survey would yield information about the prevalence of these issues and on how widely
shared these sentiments and opinions are.
Invitations to participate in the two online surveys were again sent with the kind support of the
IO in early February, including a reminder. We also used other channels in order to reach
respondents, such as the Facebook page of Radboud International Students (RIS) and the PON PhD
representatives. The latter was especially useful for reaching international staff at RadboudUMC,
since, despite our best efforts, we unfortunately could not gain access to an international staff mailing
list there.
In the end, 493 students and 282 employees completed our questionnaire. These correspond
to approximate response rates of 27% and 40%, respectively. For several reasons, these are not hard
percentages. First, many students and employees indicated through e-mail that they actually
considered themselves to be Dutch and therefore not part of the target population. Also, some Dutch
employees completed the survey. These responses were removed from the analyses. On the other
hand, we have indications that some groups of international employees did not receive our invitations.
Second, we lack data on the number of international employees at the UMC, and hence do not know
the size of our target population there. However, response rates equalled or exceeded normal internet
survey response, and we are fairly confident that the number of nearly 800 respondents gives us solid
ground for our analyses – at least concerning Radboud University.
Item non-response is rare, especially for students. In the case of employees, non-response
sometimes exceeds 10%. Comments indicated that this is most often due to questions not being
perceived as applicable to the respondent. Seeing as employees are a very diverse group, this is only
to be expected.
3.2. Sample characteristics
For most of our analysis, we divided students into three groups according to the programme they
were attending: Exchange students, mostly but not exclusively including Erasmus students, students
attending a regular English-language programme, and those attending a regular Dutch-language
programme. Staff members were split along their function. The majority (58,8%) consists of PhD
students. The ‘Other staff’ category is made up of Postdocs (17,9%), Assistant professors (11,1%),
Associate professors (3,1%), Professors (2,7%), Support staff (2,3%), and Others – mostly studentassistants (4,2%).
% Gender
Male
Female
total
Students
Exchange
31,0
69,0
40,8
English
37,8
62,2
30,0
Dutch
23,6
76,4
29,2
total
30,9
69,1
100
Staff
PhD
46,7
53,3
60,6
Other staff
43,8
56,2
39,4
total
45,5
54,5
100
A majority of the students is female. This holds especially for those attending a Dutch-language
programme. For the employees, the distribution is more balanced.
9
% Country
Germany
Other EU
Non-EU
No answer
Students
Exchange
11,4
74,2
12,4
2,0
English
32,4
32,4
34,5
0,7
Dutch
86,8
8,3
4,2
0,7
total
39,8
42,9
14,8
1,2
Staff
PhD
31,2
19,5
44,1
5,2
Other staff
32,4
26,9
35,1
6,5
total
31,7
22,5
40,1
5,7
We discern three different categories in terms of country of origin: Germany, other European Union
and outside of the EU. We can see that the Dutch-language programme students are predominantly
German, whereas exchange students are, due to the Erasmus programme, mostly from other
European countries. The largest proportion of non-EU students can be found among those attending
regular English-language programmes. For staff, those originating outside the EU form the largest
group, followed by German employees. Other EU countries form only a relatively small part of the
staff, especially among PhD students.
Faculty
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Medical Sciences/Radboudumc
Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Social Sciences
Nijmegen School of Management
Other
Total
Exchange
68
36
6
5
22
26
36
2
201
English
22
5
17
6
30
23
45
0
148
Dutch
13
5
13
1
35
66
11
0
144
As compared to the other groups, exchange students have relatively large shares at the Faculty of
Arts and the Faculty of Law. Regular English-language programme students are the largest groups at
the UMC and the Nijmegen School of Management. The latter result is probably because of the
English-language bachelor programmes implemented at this faculty. Dutch-language programme
students are mostly present at the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science. We know
that Psychology and Biology are popular programmes among German students. The two “other”
students studied at multiple faculties.
Institutes
Research Institute for Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies
Institute for Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies
Research Centres of the Faculty of Law
Institute for Management Research
Nijmegen Institute for Social Cultural Research
Centre for Language Studies
Behavioural Science Institute
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
RadboudUMC Institutes
Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Science
Institute for Water and Wetland Research
Institute for Molecules and Materials
Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics
Institute for Computing and Information Sciences
Other Institutes at Science Faculty
Other (please specify)
PhD
7
1
2
14
7
8
19
37
13
23
6
14
3
6
3
1
Other staff
2
3
2
16
0
3
6
29
2
13
3
12
6
6
3
6
total
9
4
4
30
7
11
25
66
15
36
9
26
9
12
6
7
Radboud University has a large number of research institutes. Front-runners in terms of participants
in the survey are respondents from the Donders Institute. This is hardly surprising given the fact that it
is a large and highly internationally oriented research institute. Most respondents in the “other”
category only indicated their faculty.
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4. Results
We asked respondents why they came to Radboud University. They could select multiple reasons
from a list. There was partial overlap between the list for students and for staff.
% Reasons for choosing Radboud University
Good reputation in my field of study
Good reputation in internationalisation
Good position in international rankings
Good promotion in my home country/university
The Catholic identity of the university
Geographic location
Agreements between home university and RU makes it easy to go
It was the only university offering my study of choice
I wanted to go to the Netherlands
I knew people in the Netherlands
I knew people who have previously been to Nijmegen
I managed to get a grant here
This university was the only one which offered a position in my field of study
This university was the only one which offered a position I wanted
I knew people in or close to Nijmegen
My partner got a job in the Netherlands
Other (please specify)
Students
46,2
18,7
24,7
14,2
1,4
21,9
23,5
16,2
44,2
7,7
13,8
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
12,8
Staff
46,9
8,0
8,4
5,3
2,3
9,2
3,8
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
15,3
9,2
20,2
18,7
8,0
19,1
Students were more likely to tick multiple boxes and give multiple reasons. This probably reflects the
fact that they have more choices in where to go, whereas staff members are much less free in their
options, since they need a job. For both groups, the university’s reputation in their field of study is
their foremost reason to choose Radboud University. For students, however, it is nearly as important
that they go to the Netherlands. Many respondents gave additional motivations. For students, this was
often related to the fact that it is difficult to be accepted into a psychology curriculum in Germany.
Employees often mentioned that they either studied here or that this was merely the university
offering an interesting position.
4.1. Integration
4.1.1.Cultural integration
We provided various statements regarding integration and Dutch people. Students and staff answered
on a scale from 1 (completely agree) to 5 (completely disagree). Average values are provided below.
Integration and Dutch people
I have sufficient knowledge of Dutch culture
I have trouble understanding how Dutch people think
I could use a course in Dutch culture (or could have
used one in the past)
There is a large difference between Dutch culture
and the culture of my country of origin
I feel at home in the Netherlands
I feel well integrated in Dutch society
I know many Dutch people
I have many Dutch friends
My social life is mainly spent with other international
people
I would like to get to know more Dutch people
Dutch people are generally nice
Dutch people are generally helpful
Students
Exchange
English
Dutch
2,6
3,7
3,0
2,5
3,5
3,0
1,9
4,1
3,6
Staff
PhD Other
staff
2,5
2,2
3,5
3,9
3,0
3,2
3,0
2,7
3,6
2,6
3,1
2,2
N/A
3,1
3,5
1,8
2,4
N/A
2,6
3,1
2,3
2,0
N/A
2,1
2,7
2,8
2,6
3,0
2,4
3,0
2,5
2,2
2,5
2,1
2,9
2,7
1,8
1,8
1,7
2,2
2,0
1,9
2,3
1,7
1,8
2,2
2,0
2,0
2,7
2,1
2,1
11
Overall, international students and staff consider Dutch people to be generally nice and helpful and
feel reasonably well at home in the Netherlands, although this is more mixed for PhD students. Most
international students and staff think they have sufficient knowledge of Dutch culture, but quite a few
of them still indicate that a course in Dutch culture could prove useful.
Although most respondents do not face difficulties understanding Dutch thinking, Englishprogramme students and PhD students feel there is a substantial gap between their culture of origin
and the Netherlands, and PhD students do not feel particularly well integrated into Dutch society.
A majority in every group agrees that it would be nice to get to know more Dutch people, a
sentiment which is strongest among Exchange students. For many international students and
employees, much of their social life appears to be spent with other international people and most of
them don’t feel they have many Dutch friends.
The above indicates that students and staff generally feel comfortable in their Dutch
surroundings, but that there is a strong desire for more integration. PhD students relatively often
appear not to feel comfortable in the Netherlands, whereas the desire for more integration is strongest
among exchange students.
To further assess integration in Dutch society, we asked students whether they live with Dutch
roommates, and whether they participate in student organisations (values also available in Table 1,
Appendix).
% Students living with Dutch roomates
70
60
50
40
%
Exchange
30
English
20
Dutch
10
0
No
Yes, 1 or 2
Yes, 3 or
more
No answer
Quite a few students do not have Dutch roommates. This is a majority for Exchange and Englishprogramme students, but also nearly 40% for Dutch-programme students. This may hinder integration
and contacts between international and Dutch students.
% Student organisations
Are you a member?
Have you ever participated in an activity?
Exchange
16,8
51,0
English
18,2
51,7
Dutch
40,7
61,4
Most Exchange and English-language programme students are not members of any student
organisation. For Dutch-language programme students, about 40% is a member – including, for
example, study and sports associations. Slightly over half of the international students, however, have
participated in student organisations’ activities at least once. If students did not participate, we asked
them why. Many of them said they did not have time, but many Exchange and English-language
programme students also indicated they were not aware of their existence and the possibilities they
provide. If they were aware of their existence, they often did not know whether they were welcome –
especially since many student organisations communicate exclusively in Dutch. Nearly a quarter of
the English-programme students listed this as a reason not to participate.
In the case of the staff, there are not nearly as many organisations as there are for students.
About 10% of international staff is a member or contributor to an expat platform or other organisation
for international staff or migrants. Radboud University, however, does not have an organisation that
focuses on international staff. We asked the staff whether they would consider such an organisation
12
to be a valuable addition and, secondly, whether they would be prepared to get involved themselves
(values also available in Table 2, Appendix).
Valuable addition
%
How likely to get involved
50
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
PhD
Other staff
A large proportion of employees, both PhD students and others, appears to support the idea of an
organisation for international staff at Radboud University. Only slightly smaller numbers would be
willing to become involved themselves. There seems to be strong potential for such an organisation.
We also asked staff members about how they felt about working at Radboud University in
both a professional and social sense. Questions were answered on a scale from 1 (completely agree)
to 5 (completely disagree). Average values are provided below.
Work Environment
I am satisfied with the professional environment in my department or institute
Facilities at Radboud University are well-equipped for me to do my work
I am satisfied with my career possibilities at Radboud University
I am satisfied with my job
It is more difficult for me, as an international staff member, to get ahead in
my career than it is for native Dutch employees
I have good social contacts with Dutch colleagues during work
I have good social contacts with international colleagues during work
I often meet socially with Dutch colleagues outside work
I often meet socially with international colleagues outside work
I am satisfied with the support I receive from my department’s secretary
I am satisfied with the support I receive from my faculty’s human resource
department (DPO)
PhD
1,9
1,7
2,4
2,0
2,9
Other staff
1,7
1,6
2,3
1,8
3,1
2,1
1,9
3,1
2,5
1,9
2,5
1,9
1,8
3,3
2,8
1,8
2,5
Employees are mostly very satisfied with their professional environment, their job in general, and the
university’s facilities. The same holds for their support from the department’s secretary and to a lesser
extent the human resource department. But although the majority of respondents indicate that they
are satisfied with their career opportunities, there are also sentiments that it is more difficult for foreign
staff to get ahead in their career than it is for Dutch employees. This need not imply discrimination,
but does reflect the difficulties that international employees face on the labour market.
Most international employees consider their social contacts with both Dutch and international
colleagues to be good, but they are substantially more likely to meet with international peers than with
Dutch ones outside of work. This indicates the existence on an “international bubble”.
4.1.2.Buddy programme
Only the 201 exchange students were asked about this topic. Most of these are Erasmus students,
although there is a small group of students attending other exchange programs who therefore could
not participate in the buddy programme. 33,8% have a buddy or have had one in the past. Of these
68 students, this is how often they met with their buddy (values also available in Table 3, Appendix):
13
Frequency of exchange student-buddy meetings
20
15
10
5
0
Once a week
Once a
Less than
or more month-once a once a month
week
Once
Never
We asked these students four questions about their experiences with the buddy programme:
- My buddy is/was helpful;
- I would have liked to meet my buddy more often;
- The buddy system works/worked well for me;
- The buddy system is a good concept.
All in all, participants seem to be very enthusiastic about the buddy programme, and would rather like
it to be intensified.
Completely agree
Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Disagree
Completely disagree
No answer
Total
Helpful
32
18
8
3
2
5
68
Meet more often
20
20
17
4
0
7
68
Works well
27
21
10
1
4
5
68
Good concept
41
18
4
0
0
5
68
The exchange students who did not participate in the buddy programme were asked why not (values
also available in Table 4, Appendix):
Reasons for not participating in a buddy programme
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
I did not know
about it
My faculty
I did not want to
doesn’t offer it
No one was
available
Other
A substantial group did not want a buddy. However, almost half of the non-participants did not know
about the existence of the buddy programme. Some respondents in the “other” category are other
exchange students, for whom the programme was not available. Others indicated that they tried to get
a buddy, but did not get a reply. This suggests that information and communication towards Erasmus
students is sometimes perceived as unclear.
Some universities have been experimenting with buddy systems for international staff as well.
We asked employees how useful they think such a system would be for international staff in general
and how useful it would be or would have been for them personally (values also available in Table 5,
Appendix).
14
Useful in general
%
Useful for respondent
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
PhD
Other staff
Total
Three quarters of the staff appear to endorse the buddy programme. For more than half of the staff, a
buddy would be useful or would have been useful in the past. This is especially the case for PhD
students. If we take into account that these employees also include Germans who initially studied
here, we can conclude that there is very strong support for a buddy programme for international staff.
Since international employees tend to stay at Radboud University for longer periods of time, investing
in a buddy programme for them may prove to be a worthwhile effort.
4.1.3.Orientation
Almost all of the students coming to Nijmegen participated in an orientation programme. The
Exchange and English-language programme students mainly participated in the (after) orientation
organised by RIS and some also participated in an introduction programme from their faculty, such as
from the Nijmegen School of Management. A large majority of the students enrolled in a Dutch
language programme join the general introduction for Dutch first-year students. Most of the students
who did not participate indicated that they arrived after the orientation period.
In sharp contrast with the students, 40% of the PhD students along with almost 65% of the
other staff members did not participate in any orientation programme. Such programmes are
sometimes organised by the IO, faculties, and departments. For many of the international staff there
was no orientation or they were not aware of whether these programmes were organised. Only a few
staff members indicated they did not want to take part in an orientation. Some were already familiar
with Nijmegen because they had studied here before or had experience living in the Netherlands, and
therefore did not find an introduction necessary. In general, there appears to be a greater need for
orientation programmes for staff members (values also available in Table 6, Appendix).
Reasons for not participating in an orientation
%
50
40
30
20
10
0
PhD
Other staff
I did not know There was no I did not want I arrived after
there was an need for an to participate
the
orientation
orientation
introduction
programme
period
Other
Of the staff and students who did participate, most are to a large degree satisfied with their orientation
programme (values also available in Table 7, Appendix), which especially holds for those students
involved in the orientation organised by RIS. The students answered that there is a good balance
between social and formal activities, that the guidance from student mentors and coordinators is
15
satisfactory, and that they received the information they needed before and during the programme.
However, they indicate that they also would have liked to receive more information during the
orientation. The same holds for the international staff members who participated in an orientation
programme. They have a similar opinion as the international students and also would have liked to
receive more information during their orientation. What information specifically, or whether they just
did not find the information already available, has to be further investigated. The housing section
below (4.2.5.) suggests students and staff would at least like to have more information regarding
housing in general and private housing specifically. In addition, exchange students would like more
information about the Dutch grading system (see section 4.2.4. below).
Satisfaction with orientation
60
50
Very Satisfied
40
Satisfied
%
30
Neutral
Unsatisfied
20
Very unsatisfied
10
0
Exchange
English
Dutch
PhD
Other staff
4.2. Support
4.2.1.Support in general
We asked both students and staff about their experiences with the support offered by various areas of
Radboud University. They answered on a scale from 1 (completely agree) to 5 (completely disagree).
Average values are provided below.
Student support
I was satisfied with the support offered …
… by Radboud University before I arrived in Nijmegen
… by Radboud University during my stay in Nijmegen
… by the International Office before I arrived in Nijmegen
… by the International Office during my stay in Nijmegen
Exchange
English
Dutch
2,1
2,0
2,0
1,9
2,4
2,4
2,7
2,6
2,6
2,4
2,6
2,8
In general students are quite satisfied with the support they receive, but the numbers also indicate
there is still some room for improvement for the students enrolled in an English- and Dutch-language
programme.
Staff support
I am satisfied with the support offered…
… by my department before I arrived in Nijmegen
… by my department during my stay in Nijmegen
… by my department’s secretary
… by my faculty before I arrived in Nijmegen
… by my faculty during my stay in Nijmegen
… by my faculty’s human resources department
… by the Dienst Personeel en Organisatie (DPO, human resources
department) before I arrived in Nijmegen
… by the Dienst Personeel en Organisatie (DPO, human resources
department) during my stay in Nijmegen
PhD
Other staff
2,3
2,2
1,9
2,6
2,4
2,5
2,6
2,1
1,9
1,8
2,5
2,5
2,5
2,6
2,6
2,6
16
Overall the international staff members are positive towards the support they received. The
department secretary is the most helpful, in addition to the staff members’ own departments.
Furthermore, we asked the staff members which persons they will go to if they encounter any
problems regarding official procedures at Radboud University. These figures match the mentioned
satisfaction levels as displayed above, and most will ask the department secretary for help (values
also available in Table 8, Appendix).
Sources of information for staff members
60
50
40
%
30
PhD
20
Other staff
10
0
Faculty’s
human
resource
department
Department
secretary
Supervisor
Dutch
colleagues
International
colleagues
We asked the students to whom they will go if they have any questions about their study programme.
The students who stay in Nijmegen for a longer time than an exchange period are more likely to go to
their study advisor, whereas students in a Dutch programme look more often for information on the
website and ask fellow students (values also available in Table 9, Appendix).
Sources of information for students
80
70
60
50
%
Exchange
40
30
English
20
Dutch
10
0
Study advisor
Programme
coordinator
Course
Consult websiteFellow students
coordinator
4.2.2.Study advisors
In the survey we devoted a section specifically to study advisors. The possible answers given by
students were: 1 (not at all), 2 (insufficiently), 3 (sufficiently), 4 (very well). Average values are
provided below.
With regard to study advisors, how informed would you say you
are about…
… the kind of support they offer
… where to find information about their services
… how to approach them
Exchange
English
Dutch
2,3
2,3
2,4
2,6
2,6
2,8
3,0
2,9
3,1
17
The students enrolled in a Dutch language programme are well aware of what study advisors do and
how to get in contact with them. This is less the case for subsequently English-language programme
and Exchange students. We asked those international students who have consulted a study advisor
during their stay (26,7% of the exchange students, 58,6% of English-language programme students
and 70,3% of Dutch-language programme students) about their satisfaction regarding the support
they were offered. Answers range from 1 (very satisfied) to 5 (very unsatisfied).
How satisfied would you say you were with…
… how informed they were about the existing options for your situation
… their level of English
… their willingness to help
… their availability
Exchange
2,0
1,6
1,7
1,9
English
2,2
1,9
1,8
2,2
Dutch
2,5
2,6
2,2
2,2
The study advisors do a pretty good job, especially for the exchange students and those enrolled in
an English-language programme. The numbers are slightly less positive for the Dutch-language
programme students, but overall they are still mostly satisfied.
4.2.3.Student information
We have listed to what extent the students found that they received sufficient information regarding
their study and student rights at Radboud University. Their rating options were: 1 (not at all), 2
(insufficiently), 3 (sufficiently), 4 (very well).
How informed would you say you are about…
… possible options for elective courses
… the structure of your study programme (i.e. EC requirements, exam
periods, etc)
… the content of your study programme (i.e. what courses you should
follow)
… the content of your courses (i.e. requirements, description, etc)
Exchange
2,6
3,0
English
2,8
3,1
Dutch
2,6
3,1
2,9
3,2
3,1
3,0
3,1
3,1
The information international students receive about their study programme is deemed largely
sufficient. Only some suggest there could be improvement in the information about possible elective
courses. Below we asked the students about student rights. Again, answers range from 1 (not at all)
to 4 (very well).
How informed would you say you are about…
… the right to use a dictionary during the exams
… the right to request extra exam time (in special cases such as
disabilities)
… where to find information about your student rights
Exchange
2,6
1,9
English
2,3
2,1
Dutch
3,2
2,7
1,9
1,8
2,1
Most students are insufficiently informed about their right to request extra exam time and do not know
where they would be able to find information about their student rights in general. More people are
aware of when they are allowed to use a dictionary during exams, but for the English-language
programme students this could be improved.
4.2.4.Grading
During the focus groups, some students mentioned that especially in the beginning it can be hard to
grasp the Dutch grading system. In the survey, we asked the international students about their
experiences. Specifically, we mentioned the expression: “10 is for God, 9 for the teacher, and 8 for
the student” – which tends to be representative of Dutch grading practices, as few students’ final
grades are higher than 8. Answer possibilities once again range from 1 (not at all) to 4 (very well).
How informed would you say you are regarding the Dutch grading
system and practices?
Exchange
2,0
English
2,6
Dutch
2,7
Although a majority of the non-Exchange students state they are relatively well informed about Dutch
grading practices, there is still room for improvement as a significant number of them indicates
insufficient information. Moreover, Exchange students indicate they are largely uninformed. Over a
18
third of the exchange students say they did not receive any information about grading practices at all,
but for others some information was provided by fellow international or Dutch students. Few asked the
course professor and the study advisor, while the Nuffic website appears to be unknown – zero
students indicated it as an information source for this topic.
4.2.5.Housing
Both Exchange and English-language programme students mainly rely on the SSHN for housing.
Around a third of the English programme students searches for housing in the private sector, along
with 40% of those students enrolled in a Dutch-language programme. In the ‘other’ category, students
said they lived in Germany or in one of the small villages around Nijmegen (Appendix, Table 10). The
international employees mostly live in Nijmegen, which is specifically true for the international PhD
students. Other staff members are more spread out – over 40% lives outside of Nijmegen (Appendix,
Table 11).
In general, the students are satisfied with their accommodation; the staff members show even
higher satisfaction levels. There are no large differences between the locations for either students or
staff. Only the shared facilities and the living conditions are judged worse in the student locations
Griftdijk, Hoogeveldt and Vossenveld in comparison to the others. The students who had to deal with
SSHN are neither positive nor very negative towards the student housing institute. For the issues
below, the students answered on a scale from 1 (very satisfied) to 5 (very unsatisfied) (values also
available in Table 12, Appendix).
Student satisfaction with accommodation
5
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
Exchange
English
Dutch
We also asked about the information the respondents had received regarding housing in Nijmegen
and about the support they received in their search for housing. The scale ranges from 1 (very
satisfied) to 5 (very unsatisfied) (values also available in Table 13, Appendix).
Satisfaction with info received on...
Satisfaction with support received from...
5
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
Exchange
English
Dutch
PhD
… housing in … housing by
general
SSHN
… private
housing in
Nijmegen
… the
… the housing
International department
Office
of your
regarding
faculty
housing
Other staff
19
Respondents are not uniformly positive about the information they received about housing. More
attention can be paid on dispersing information (especially concerning private housing in Nijmegen),
although it could also be the case that existing information is not found by students or staff.
Exchange and English-language programme students lean to the positive side in their
evaluation of the housing support of the IO. The support received by those enrolled in a Dutchlanguage programme can be improved, according to those who have contact with the IO. PhD
students sometimes experience difficulties with regard to housing, but those from the other categories
of staff who have received support are generally positive.
4.3. Use of English
4.3.1.Communication, facilities, and services
We asked the international students to what degree the English-language courses they attend take
place in English. Overall, the majority reported that courses take place entirely in English. Students
enrolled in an English-language programme experience this to a greater degree than those enrolled in
Dutch-language programmes – only slightly less than half of this latter group reports that the courses
take place entirely in English, with almost 20% reporting that Dutch is used more than English during
the course.
% English-language courses taking place in English
Exchange
Everything (assignments, class discussions, lectures) is in English
79,9
Mostly in English, but Dutch is occasionally used, for example in
16,2
class discussions
About as many things are in English as in Dutch
2,6
Things happen more in Dutch than in English
0
Other
1,3
English
73,9
Dutch
45.8
23,9
33.3
0,7
1,4
0
2.1
18.8
0
We went in more depth on this topic, and asked the students to evaluate the degree to which
communication with their teachers, classmates, through email, and through Blackboard took place in
English. The responses were mostly positive for the students enrolled in Exchange and Englishlanguage programmes. Almost three quarters of this group of students reported that the
communication with their teachers, classmates, and through emails took place entirely in English;
communication through Blackboard was slightly less frequent in English, though still slightly over 90%
reported it to be at least mostly in English. Students enrolled in Dutch-language programmes reported
less frequent communication in English, and registered the highest percentages of communication
never taking place in English (across all categories, and especially so for communication with
classmates). This is understandable, considering their enrolment in Dutch-taught programmes.
% English communication during English-taught courses
completely in English
mostly in English
With teachers
sometimes in English
rarely in English
never in English
completely in English
mostly in English
With classmates
sometimes in English
rarely in English
never in English
completely in English
mostly in English
Through emails
sometimes in English
rarely in English
never in English
completely in English
mostly in English
Through Blackboard
sometimes in English
rarely in English
never in English
Exchange
85,0
10,5
2,6
0
2,0
77,8
16,3
5,2
0
0,7
80,9
16,4
2,0
0
0,7
62,9
31,1
5,3
0
0,7
English
78,1
15,3
2,9
2,2
1,5
61,3
25,5
2,9
7,3
2,9
73,0
19,7
5,1
1,5
0,7
67,9
25,5
3,6
2,9
0
Dutch
26,1
32,6
17,4
15,2
8,7
2,2
10,9
15,2
39,1
32,6
34,8
21,7
15,2
15,2
13,
52,2
23,9
6,5
13
4,3
20
The students had an overall good evaluation of their teachers’ level of English, with only 2 students
(0,6%) considering their teachers’ level of English insufficient. Exchange students had the most
favourable evaluations of their teachers’ level of English, while students enrolled in Dutch-language
programmes were least favourable.
% Teachers’ level of English
Exchange
Insufficient, my teacher(s) had a poor vocabulary and weak grammar
0
skills
Sufficient, I can follow what my teacher(s) say
11,8
Good, my teacher(s) are fluent and I understand them perfectly
83,0
Hard to say; some are (very) good, some (very) bad
5,2
English Dutch
1,4
0
21,7
63,8
13,0
28,3
43,5
28,3
We also asked students about their exam-taking experiences, particularly the degree to which exam
surveyors offered support and explanations in English. The responses were relatively positive for the
students enrolled in Exchange and English-language programmes, with slightly over half of the
students reporting good or full support. About 10% of students in both types of programmes reported
that the surveyors neither gave the instruction in English nor translated the basics for them. While
10% is a relatively small percentage, having to take exams without understanding the instruction or
being able to address the exam surveyors is undesirable for any student, and it would be best if
measures were taken to avoid such situations entirely. Responses were less favourable from the
students following a Dutch-language programme, who report the highest percentage of exam
surveyors not speaking English at all (15.9%); this could be explained by the fact that, with a basic
understanding of Dutch being required to follow a Dutch programme at all, the exam surveyors for the
Dutch programme exams would likely not be selected based on their English skills.
In the relatively high ‘other’ category, two respondents reported mixed experiences
(sometimes the surveyors used English, sometimes only Dutch). Apart from this, the category
consisted mostly of students who had yet to take an exam (or an exam requiring surveyors), with 5
students having had high enough Dutch skills that they did not require or pay attention to the
surveyors’ English explanations.
% Exam surveyors offering support and explanations in English
None at all, the exam surveyors didn't speak English
Somewhat, the exam surveyors addressed the class in Dutch, but
translated the basics specifically for me
Good, the exam surveyors addressed everyone in Dutch as well as
English.
Full support, the exam surveyors addressed the class in English
Other
Exchange
8,1
English
10,2
Dutch
15,9
12,1
25,5
29,5
24,8
21,9
27,3
38,3
16,8
31,4
10,9
15,9
11,4
In the case of the staff members, we checked for the language used in departmental meetings, and
the degree in which the formal communication (emails or letters) addressed to them was translated in
English. More than half of the respondents reported that the meetings took place in English, with
about another quarter reporting that the language used varied. Overall, a greater percentage of nonPhD students attend meetings in Dutch than is the case for PhD students.
% Language used in department meetings
Other (please specify)
English
Dutch
Sometimes English, sometimes Dutch
PhD
4,3
67,1
5,0
23,6
Other staff
1,1
58,5
12,8
27,7
In the case of official communication, about 60-70% of the respondents reported that at least ‘most
things’ are in English. Generally speaking, about one third of the departments hardly translates
anything, one third translates most communication, and one third translates everything. At the level of
faculties and especially the university, substantial parts are usually translated, but not everything. The
use of English in official communication would seem to decrease the higher one goes on the
hierarchical ladder – a greater percentage of respondents reported that nearly all communication was
translated in English at the department level than at the institute/faculty level, and the same between
21
the institute/faculty level and university level. Consistently, about a third of the respondents indicates
that many things are not translated (values also available in Table 14, Appendix).
Degree of communication translated in English for staff
%
50
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
(nearly) everything is in English
most things are in English
some things are in English
(almost) nothing is in English
PhD
Other
staff
From university
PhD
Other
staff
From
institute/faculty
PhD
Other
staff
From department
We also measured the satisfaction levels with the use of English for websites, campus facilities, and
support services. Students and staff members were asked to rate a number of items on a 5-point
scale (1 very satisfied, 2 satisfied, 3 neutral, 4 unsatisfied, 5 very unsatisfied). We also offered a “don't
know or N/A” option for these questions, in order to account for the students and staff members who
either had little experience with these websites, facilities, and services, or for whom the use of English
in these instances was less relevant. The tables below present the percentages of students and staff
members who made use of this option, and the average scores for those who rated the items.
Students were overall positive on the use of English on university websites and in campus
facilities and services, with the least favourable rating being a “neutral” in the case of the use of
English for student organisations’ websites and activities, as rated by students enrolled in an Englishlanguage programme. Of note is that this rating further supports the observation we made in the
cultural integration section (4.1.1.) that student organisations should be more open to students
enrolled in English-language programmes. Another notable issue is that the students enrolled in a
Dutch-taught programme consistently had the highest percentage of respondents opting for the “don't
know or N/A” category (about half of them in several instances). This makes sense, since many of
them would have sufficient language skills to navigate these websites, facilities and services in Dutch
(seeing as they follow Dutch-language programmes). Moreover, many of the international students
enrolled in Dutch-language courses are German, and it is possible that they would access the
German version of the university websites (where applicable), and not be able to evaluate their
English versions.
Satisfaction with use of English
in/on…
University website
Official university communication
Student Portal
Student organisations' websites and
activities
Communication by Student Services
(Dienst Studentenzaken)
International Office website
International Office communication
Radboud in'to Languages official
communication
Radboud in'to Languages intake
interview
Sports centre website
% don't
know or
Exchange N/A
1,7
2,2
1,7
2,7
1,9
2,7
% don't
know or
English N/A
2,2
5
2,2
6,4
2,3
5
% don't
know or
Dutch N/A
1,8
35,2
1,9
40,0
2,0
36,9
2,4
17,0
3,0
26,3
2,4
47,9
2,4
1,6
1,5
26,1
5,9
2,6
2,0
1,8
23,7
12,1
10,1
2,1
2,0
2,0
45,8
53,3
55,4
1,8
29,6
2,0
41,1
2,0
47,5
1,9
2,5
38,0
15,9
2,1
2,8
48,2
31,7
2,2
2,1
59,0
47,1
22
Sports centre personnel
Sports centre registration for courses
Directions and signs around campus
Péage (printing service)
Catering facilities (Refter,
Cultuurcafé, etc.)
SSHN (housing) contracts
SSHN official communication
SSHN personal communication
2,2
2,6
2,3
2,2
18,1
18,7
3,3
8,7
2,3
2,9
2,6
2,6
33,8
33,8
11,5
18,6
2,3
2,2
2,3
2,3
54,5
52,1
42,1
50,8
2,5
2,1
2,2
2,2
5,4
6,0
8,2
9,3
2,9
2,3
2,3
2,4
14,5
35,3
33,1
34,8
2,5
2,3
2,4
2,4
42,1
58,7
53,7
56,2
Staff members were also overall positive on the use of English on university websites and in campus
facilities and services, with the least favourable rating being a “neutral”. Though the differences were
marginal in some cases, PhD students were consistently slightly less satisfied than other categories
of staff members. The items that received the most negative ratings (with relatively few respondents
opting for the “don’t know or N/A” option) were the catering facilities and Radboudnet.
Satisfaction with use of English in/on…
University website
Official university communication
Faculty or institute website
Official faculty or institute communication
Department website
Official department communication
Radboudnet (intranet)
Staff organisation websites such as PON or the
personnel association (PV)
Central human resources (DPO) website
FleX website
International Office website
Sports centre website
Sports centre personnel
Sports centre registration for courses
Directions and signs around campus
Computers and audiovisual support in
classrooms
Catering facilities (Refter, Cultuurcafé, etc.)
SSHN/housing website
SSHN/housing website
PhD
2,4
2,4
2,3
2,4
2,2
2,3
2,8
% don't know
or N/A
8,1
13,0
10,9
11,7
12,4
10,3
15,9
Other
staff
2,2
2,2
2,0
2,1
1,9
2,0
2,7
% don't know
or N/A
11,7
12,9
11,8
14,0
15,1
11,0
15,1
2,4
2,9
3,0
2,2
2,5
2,1
2,5
2,4
40,0
46,3
42,9
32,4
28,3
31,4
35,1
14,6
2,4
2,8
2,6
2,1
2,3
2,1
2,3
2,3
61,1
49,5
36,6
39,8
50,0
52,8
54,5
17,8
2,5
2,9
2,7
2,7
3,7
17,5
38,0
38,0
2,3
2,7
2,7
2,7
39,6
20,0
58,9
58,9
4.3.2.Dutch language courses
We asked both students and staff to mention if they had taken one or more Dutch language course
prior to or after coming to the University. The majority of students enrolled in an English-taught
programme did not follow a Dutch language course, quoting costliness, lack of time, and lack of
necessity as their main reasons (values also available in Table 15, Appendix). Of these three, the
price of the Dutch language courses was by far the greatest deterrent. International students enrolled
in Dutch-taught programmes were most likely to follow a Dutch language course prior to or during
their study at the University (understandably so). The majority of them (indeed, the majority of all
students who had followed a Dutch language course) did so at Radboud In’to Languages:
% Dutch language class taken…
at Radboud In'to Languages
at municipality
at own university or school (home country)
at another Dutch university
private lessons
part of study programme
unclear
Exchange
8,5
,5
4,5
0
0
3,5
2,0
English
18,9
3,4
4,7
,7
1,4
0
2,7
Dutch
56,3
2,8
6,9
,7
2,1
0
1,4
23
NT2/mother tongue/fluent
other/NA
No
,5
6,5
74,1
,7
6,8
60,8
3,5
15,3
11,1
Student reasons for not participating in a Dutch language course
60
50
40
%
30
Exchange
20
English
10
Dutch
0
Too
expensive
Not
Heard that Heard that Didn't know I Didn’t have
necessary the level was the level was could follow the time
too low
too high
language
courses
Other
(please
specify)
Students who had taken a Dutch language course were asked to rate their satisfaction with it on a 5point scale (1 very satisfied, 2 satisfied, 3 neutral, 4 unsatisfied, 5 very unsatisfied); average values
are presented below. The students were rather satisfied with the course in general. and most positive
about its usefulness and teacher. Responses about the courses’ level were mixed (students enrolled
in Dutch-language programmes being more satisfied than those enrolled in exchange programmes).
They were least positive about the courses’ price, with their average ratings approaching “neutral”.
Satisfaction with Dutch language course(s) taken
Price
Level
Teacher
Usefulness
Course in general
Exchange
2,3
2,3
1,8
1,9
2,0
English
2,7
1,9
1,7
1,9
1,9
Dutch
2,7
1,7
1,6
1,4
1,7
We went in more depth on the issues of necessity and costliness by asking international students to
rate three statements on a 5-point scale (1 completely agree, 2 mostly agree, 3 neither agree nor
disagree, 4 mostly disagree, 5 completely disagree); average values are presented below. Exchange
students were least willing to pay for Dutch language courses, and felt most able to live and study in
Nijmegen without Dutch language skills. Students enrolled in Dutch-language programmes were at
the other end of the spectrums. The opinions of students enrolled in English-language programmes
were mixed, as they both felt the need for a Dutch language course and that they can live and study
in Nijmegen without Dutch language skills.
Agreement – Disagreement with following
statements
I feel the need to attend a Dutch language course
I can manage to study and live in Nijmegen
without Dutch language skills
I am willing to pay for a Dutch language course
Exchange
English
Dutch
3,2
2,5
3,5
2,2
2,7
3,8
3,5
3,3
3,0
We also checked the students’ interest and preferences regarding free Dutch language courses.
Students were overall interested, with free online Dutch language courses being seen less useful than
free social or intensive Dutch language courses (values also available in Table 16, Appendix).
24
Student interest in free Dutch language courses
Exchange
Free online Dutch
language course
Free social Dutch
course
not at all useful
somewhat useful
very useful
not at all useful
somewhat useful
very useful
not at all useful
somewhat useful
English
very useful
%
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Dutch
Free intensive Dutch
language course
As for staff members, about half of them have not followed a Dutch language course after coming to
work at the University (Appendix, Table 17) - though whether this was because they already spoke
the language, had plans to do so but had not yet started (still early in their work contract), or simply
were not interested to do so (for whatever reason), we cannot at this moment say. This holds for the
majority of PhD students (60.9%) and slightly less than half for other types of staff members (44%). Of
the staff members who had followed a Dutch language course, most of them did so at Radboud In’to
Languages (Appendix, Table 18).
Most of the staff members’ Dutch courses were (at least partially) paid for by the University,
with about a fifth of the employees (both for PhD students and non-PhD students) paying for the
courses themselves. More research should be done to determine whether this was because the
University did not offer this opportunity, or if the opportunities were there but staff members lacked
information. For most of the staff members whose Dutch language courses were (at least partially)
paid for by the University, this was done by their department or institute. In general, these staff
members described the process as going smoothly (values also available in Table 19, Appendix).
% Course(s) (partially) paid for by the University
No, I paid everything myself
Yes, it was (partially) covered by my personal budget
Yes, it was (partially) covered by the department/institute
Yes, it was (partially) covered by an employee development budget
Yes, other (please specify)
PhD
20,4
14,8
40,7
3,7
20,4
Other staff
17,6
9,8
58,8
5,9
7,8
Process of covering Dutch language course expenses
%
100
80
60
40
20
0
PhD
Other staff
The process went
smoothly
There were some
It was (very)
minor issues
difficult to arrange
Those who tried to determine if their Dutch language courses could be covered by the university
(whether they were successful or not) reported contacting their superior or the secretary of their
25
department. Staff members who had not done so yet similarly reported that they would contact their
superior or their department/institute secretary.
Whom did you
% Person to contact in order to see if the University
contact?
would pay for Dutch language courses
PhD Other staff
The secretary of my department
8,2
14,4
The secretary of my Institute
2,9
2,7
The DPO
2,3
1,8
The International Office
1,2
,9
My supervisor/superior
15,2 22,5
International colleagues
4,1
1,8
Dutch colleagues
1,8
1,8
Other (please specify)
4,7
6,3
Whom would
contact?
PhD
27,5
7,0
3,5
14,6
20,5
18,1
2,9
1,8
you
Other staff
8,1
11,7
5,4
7,2
10,8
3,6
2,7
4,5
4.4. Overall opinions
At the end of the surveys, we asked respondents how international they consider Radboud University
to be and whether or not they would recommend the university to their peers (values also available in
Table 20, Appendix).
How international is RU?
Would you recommend it back home?
90
80
70
60
%
50
Exchange
40
English
30
Dutch
20
Total
10
0
PhD
Other staff
Total
The majority of students consider Radboud University to be at least quite international. This sentiment
is strongest among Exchange students. Employees are more ambiguous in their assessment, but
they still on average view the university as rather international. A large majority of both students and
staff would recommend the university to peers in their country of origin. Summarizing, most students
and staff are quite positive about the internationalisation efforts of Radboud University.
26
5. Conclusions
In the field of internationalisation at Radboud University, many things are going well. This is noticed
by international students and staff alike, who consider the university to be quite international and
would by and large recommend Radboud University to peers in their country of origin. Overall,
international students and employees enjoy living in the Netherlands and studying or working at
Radboud University in particular.
There are, however, also some fields of improvement; some challenges to be addressed in
order for the university to truly become the international research university it aspires to be. As the
Internationalisation policy paper for the period 2014-2018 (RU International Office, 2013: 1) justly
notes, the university’s service to international students and staff should be “superb”. This study,
initiated by the Internationalisation Taskforce of the University Council, provides several leads for
further improving on this service.
Like previous studies on the subject noted, challenges for international students and staff
alike can be framed mostly in terms of the two related terms integration and language. Integration in
Dutch society and Radboud University specifically is highly relevant for international students and
staff to feel at home. Feeling at home is an important precondition for effective work and study, and
increases the likelihood of expats staying in the Netherlands. Increasing contacts with international
students and staff will also benefit the Dutch university population in terms of providing new insights
and ideas, and getting accustomed to an increasingly global labour market.
This study sheds some light on which elements could be improved in order to increase
integration. Extension of the highly successful buddy programme and of university- and faculty-wide
orientations are highly recommended. There is strong support among international employees for an
expat organisation at Radboud University, which may help to extend their network and share
experiences. Other ideas include providing a (free) Dutch culture course, mixing housing for Dutch
and international students, and encouraging Dutch student associations as well as staff organisations
to be more inclusive, among other things by increasing their English-language communication.
This is related to the second main challenge for internationalisation at Radboud University:
the use of English. Although improvements have certainly been achieved over the past several
years, international students and staff still consider language to be an issue. While they get by in their
daily work or study, large parts of formal and informal communication, both at the levels of faculties or
departments and on that of the central university, are still exclusively conducted in Dutch. Information
is key. International students and staff could sometimes use more communication and more
support with various subjects such as housing, grading practices, elective courses, or language
courses. We see three ways of fulfilling this demand: by proactively giving information, by translating
all formal communication in English, and by assisting international students and staff to learn Dutch.
If the above challenges are met with concrete measures and actions by the university, as well
as by all individual faculties, institutes, departments, and (student) organisations, we are confident
that Radboud University will achieve its goal of being a fully international university. We recommend
that similar studies on the subject be conducted regularly to monitor developments. These future
contributions will also need to more fully include the RadboudUMC than we were able to.
27
6. Recommendations
Methodology
Further improve the database of the registered international employees to ensure full
coverage;
Provide or construct a similar list of international employees at the UMC to run a study with
sufficient coverage.
Orientation
Give all incoming staff members the possibility to participate in an orientation programme.
This implies the creation of more of these programmes, as well as providing more information
about those already existent;
Provide more information in the introduction, and investigate whether current information is
either not found, deemed insufficient or is non-existent. Two points can already be improved:
the information about housing in Nijmegen, especially in the private sector, and for students
about the Dutch grading system;
In order to help new students and staff members find their way around (especially useful in
the starting months), create a webpage with relevant information on living in the Netherlands,
and studying/working at Radboud University; a section with tips from students and staff
members that have been at for some time Radboud might also be helpful.
Integration
Both Radboud University and student organisations should focus more on improving the
interaction between Dutch and international students. One such improvement might include
enlarging the capabilities of RIS and extend their activities to include all students (so that, for
instance, students enrolled in Dutch-language programmes could also join);
Facilitate the founding of an organisation for international staff. This could contribute to the
“global campus” that Radboud University is striving for. This organisation should cooperate
with the PhD Organisation Nijmegen (PON) and the Employee Association (PV) to prevent an
international bubble. Translate the website of the PV in English to improve international
participation;
Extend the highly popular buddy system to include regular English-language students,
Exchange students, PhD students, and other international employees. All international
students and staff should in principle be eligible for participation and need to be made aware
of the possibilities;
Use the orientation programmes to disperse information about expat/international
organisations and buddy programmes.
Support
Although the figures show the majority of the international students and staff is satisfied with
the support they have received so far, a significant number of them have also expressed
dissatisfaction. Continuous efforts have to be made to improve the overall support for all
groups;
Improve the awareness of the study advisors’ role among international students, and
especially exchange students;
Provide international students with access to (English) information regarding their student
rights, especially with regard to examination;
Provide exchange students and students enrolled in an English-language programme with
more information regarding the Dutch grading system.
Housing
The university and the International Office should indicate in their contact with the SSHN that
their services towards international students can be improved, and stress the importance of
mixing international with Dutch students in SSHN buildings;
Provide more information to all groups about housing in general and private housing in
particular;
Improve the support offered by the International Office regarding housing, especially for those
students enrolled in a Dutch programme.
28
Language and communication
Ensure the consistent use of English during departmental meetings, since a significant
number of international employees indicate these meetings are sometimes being held in
Dutch. This is especially important with regard to their (needs for) integration;
The same holds for official communication. Considerable steps towards improvement can be
made here, since a large group points out that a substantial amount of official information
continues to be (only) in Dutch;
Institutions within Radboud University should be made fully accessible to international
students, such as the Honours Academy, SNUF and the Academisch Schrijfcentrum.
Improve the use of English on the sports centre website and in its course enrolment
procedure. There is also room for improvement in the use of English at Radboud University,
especially in the catering facilities, Radboudnet, the FleX website and the central human
resource (DPO) website;
Explore the possibility of offering free (online) Dutch language courses. A large majority of
students and staff would also find it useful to receive a course in social Dutch (which closely
relates to the topic of integration). Offering such a course could aid them in their expressed
desire for integrating with Dutch students;
Although funding opportunities exist for international staff to participate in Dutch language
courses, a significant number has paid everything themselves. Comments we received
suggest that the information regarding coverage for language courses can be improved.
29
References
Bevis, T. B. (2002). At a glance: International students in the United States. International Educator, 11
(3), 12–17.
Bhaskar-Shrinivas, P., Harrison, D., Shaffer, M., & Luk, D. (2005). Input-based and time-based
models of international adjustment: Meta-analytic evidence and theoretical extensions. Academy of
Management Journal, 48(2), 257-281.
CPB (2012). De economische effecten van internationalisering in het hoger onderwijs,
http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten-en-publicaties/rapporten/2012/05/16/de-economischeeffecten-van-internationalisering-in-het-hoger-onderwijs.html.
HSBC (2012). Expat explorer survey. http://www.expatexplorer.hsbc.com/files/pdfs/overallreports/2012/report.pdf and http://www.expatexplorer.hsbc.com/#/country/netherlands
Lewthwaite, M. (1996). A study of international students’ perspectives on cross-cultural adaptation.
International Journal for the Advancement of Councelling, 19(2), 167-185.
LSVb (2012). International Students in the Netherlands, www.lsvb.nl
Radboud University Nijmegen International Office (2013). Notitie internationalisering 2014-2018.
Redmond, M. V. & Bunyi, J. M. (1993). The relationship of intercultural communication competence
with stress and the handling of stress as reported by international students. International Journal of
Intercultural Relations, 17(2), 235-254.
Research voor Beleid (2008). Feeling at home? Facilitating expats in the process of settling, working
and living in the City Region Arnhem Nijmegen.
http://www.arnhem.nl/english/Live_in_Arnhem/Feeling_at_Home/Summary_expart_study_City_Regio
n_Arnhem_Nijmegen.pdf
Rienties, B., Beausaert, S., Grohnert, T., Niemantsverdriet, S. & Kommers, P. (2012). Higher
Education, 36(6), 685-700.
Van Bakel, M. (2012). In Touch with the Dutch. A longitudinal study of the impact of a local host on
the success of the expatriate assignment.
http://www.ru.nl/publish/pages/519712/bakel_m_s_van_2012_in_touch_with_the_dutch.pdf
30
Appendix
Table 1: Integration – students living with Dutch roommates
% Students with Dutch roommates
No
Yes, 1 or 2
Yes, 3 or more
No answer
Total
Exchange
58,7
26,4
12,9
2,0
100
English
52,7
25,0
18,9
3,4
100
Dutch
39,6
15,3
42,4
2,8
100
Table 2: Integration – staff interest in an organization focused on international staff
% Valuable addition
To a large extent
To some extent
To little extent
Not at all
No answer
PhD
43,5
32,5
12,3
3,9
7,8
Other staff
31,5
38,0
14,8
5,6
10,2
% How likely to get involved
Very likely
Somewhat likely
Not very likely
Not likely at all
No answer
PhD
35,1
37,7
12,3
7,1
7,8
Other staff
22,2
37,0
20,4
10,2
10,2
Table 3: Integration – frequency of exchange student-buddy meetings
How often do you meet with your buddy?
Once a week or more
Once a month-once a week
Less than once a month
Once
Never
10
17
15
14
12
Table 4: Integration – exchange student reasons for not participating in a buddy programme
Why did you not participate in a buddy programme?
I did not know about it
56
My faculty doesn’t offer it
10
I did not want to
36
No one was available
5
Other
17
Total
124
Table 5: Integration – staff interest in a buddy programme
% Useful in general
PhD
To a large extent
To some extent
To little extent
Not at all
No answer
37,7
40,3
7,8
5,8
8,4
Other
staff
28,7
41,7
15,7
4,6
9,3
Total
% Useful for respondent
PhD
34,0
40,8
11,1
5,3
8,8
To a large extent
To some extent
To little extent
Not at all
No answer
27,3
34,4
15,6
13,6
9,1
Other
staff
21,3
33,3
24,1
11,1
10,2
Total
24,8
34,0
19,1
12,6
9,5
31
Table 6: Integration – student reasons for not participating in an orientation
% Reason not participated in orientation
I did not know there was an orientation programme
There was no need for an orientation
I did not want to participate
I arrived after the introduction period
Other
PhD
31,7
21,7
6,7
21,7
18,3
Other staff
40,9
24,2
4,5
21,2
9,1
Table 7: Integration – satisfaction with orientation
% Satisfaction with orientation programme
Very Satisfied
Satisfied
Neutral
Unsatisfied
Very unsatisfied
Exchange
47,3
33,1
16,9
0,7
2,0
English
25,2
48,5
18,4
6,8
1,0
Dutch
23,4
43,0
19,6
10,3
3,7
PhD
16,0
50,6
22,2
7,4
3,7
Other staff
31,0
44,8
20,7
0,0
3,4
Table 8: Support – sources of information for staff members
% Who will you most likely turn to if you need any help
regarding forms or official procedures at university?
Faculty’s human resource department
Department secretary
Supervisor
Dutch colleagues
International colleagues
PhD
Other
staff
18,3
50,4
26,6
37,6
18,3
19,3
53,2
26,9
39,2
21,6
Table 9: Support – sources of information for students
% If you have questions about the content or structure of your
study programme, where would you look for an answer? (multiple
answers allowed)
Study advisor
Programme coordinator
Course coordinator
Consult website
Fellow students
Exchange
English
Dutch
12,5
35,9
52,7
40,2
48,9
42,4
39,6
41,0
33,1
58,2
52,9
13,0
29,7
52,1
71,7
Table 10: Support – spread of student residence
% What is/was your place of residence?
Griftdijk (Lent)
Hoogeveldt
Vossenveld
Other SSHN
Radboud Hotel
Housing in private sector
Other
Exchange
29,1
31,3
26,8
2,8
0,6
5,0
4,5
English
1,5
22,4
17,9
14,9
6,0
30,6
6,7
Dutch
3,2
23,2
8,8
8,8
0
40,0
16,0
32
Table 11: Support – spread of staff residence
% Where is/was your place of residence?
In Nijmegen, with SSHN
In Nijmegen, private housing
Less than 20 km from Nijmegen
Less than 50 km, but more than 20 km from Nijmegen
More than 50 km from Nijmegen
Other
PhD
12,3
68,1
6,5
6,5
3,6
2,9
Other staff
7,5
47,3
16,1
11,8
15,1
2,2
Table 12: Support – student satisfaction with accommodation
Satisfaction with…
… the accommodation in general
… your living conditions (cleanliness, room conditions, etc.)
… your roommates
… the shared facilities (kitchen, toilets, etc.)
… the SSHN in general
… friendliness and helpfulness of the SSHN
Exchange
2,4
2,9
1,9
2,9
3,1
3,0
English
2,2
2,5
2,0
2,9
3,0
2,9
Dutch
2,5
2,8
2,7
3,1
2,9
2,8
Table 13: Support – satisfaction with information regarding accommodation
Satisfaction with the information you received
regarding …
… housing in general
… housing by SSHN
… private housing in Nijmegen
Satisfaction with the support you received from
…
… the International Office regarding housing
… the housing department of your faculty
Exchange
English
Dutch
PhD
2,5
2,6
3,2
3,0
2,9
3,5
2,9
2,9
3,4
2,8
2,4
3,4
Other
staff
2,3
2,0
3,3
2,6
N/A
2,8
N/A
3,4
N/A
2,8
3,2
2,3
2,0
Table 14: Use of English – degree of communication translated in English for staff
% Translated official communication
(emails or letters)
(nearly) everything is in English
most things are in English
some things are in English
(almost) nothing is in English
From
university
Other
PhD
staff
17,9 19,1
40,7 43,6
30,7 30,9
10,7 6,4
From
institute/faculty
Other
PhD
staff
25,7
27,7
35,7
45,7
30,7
21,3
7,9
5,3
From
department
Other
PhD
staff
32,4 38,3
29,5 33,0
25,2 18,1
12,9 10,6
Table 15: Use of English – student reasons for not participating in a Dutch language course
% Reasons for not participating in a Dutch language course
Too expensive
Not necessary
Heard that the level was too low
Heard that the level was too high
Didn't know I could follow language courses
Didn’t have the time
Other (please specify)
Exchange
47,8
26,9
1,5
,5
7,5
31,8
6,0
English
43,9
13,5
2,0
1,4
8,1
28,4
4,1
Dutch
,7
8,3
2,1
,7
3,5
33
Table 16: Use of English – student interest in free Dutch language courses
% Usefulness of free Dutch language courses
very useful
Free online Dutch language course
somewhat useful
not at all useful
very useful
Free social Dutch course
somewhat useful
not at all useful
very useful
Free intensive Dutch language course somewhat useful
not at all useful
Exchange
50,8
39,5
9,7
76,3
20,4
3,2
75,7
20,5
3,8
English
59,7
30,9
9,4
74,3
19,3
6,4
84,9
12,2
2,9
Dutch
41,6
40,7
17,7
64,7
25,9
9,5
72,6
17,1
10,3
Table 17: Use of English – percentages of staff members following a Dutch language course
% Have you followed one or more Dutch language
Other
PhD
course(s) after being employed by Radboud University?
staff
yes
no
39,1 56,0
60,9 44,0
Table 18: Use of English – distribution of Dutch language courses followed for staff members
% Were these courses...
Offered by Radboud In’to Languages
Offered by another Language school
Offered by a private teacher
Other (please specify)
PhD
21,6
7,0
3,5
1,2
Other staff
34,2
7,2
8,1
3,6
Table 19: Use of English – process of covering Dutch language course expenses
% Please describe the process of covering the Dutch
Other
PhD
language course expenses.
staff
The process went smoothly
There were some minor issues
It was (very) difficult to arrange
67,4 82,5
23,3 17,5
9,3 -
Table 20: Overall opinions – RU’s internationalization degree and peers recommendations
% How international do you
consider RU to be?
Very international
Quite international
Somewhat international
Not very international
Not at all international
No answer
Would you recommend RU to
peers?
Yes
No
No answer
Exchange English
Dutch
Total
PhD
58,2
26,9
6,0
1,5
0,5
7,0
24,3
41,9
20,3
6,8
2,0
4,7
18,8
49,3
14,6
2,8
0,0
14,6
36,5
37,9
12,8
3,4
0,8
8,5
10,4
36,4
28,6
10,4
0,6
13,6
Other
staff
12,0
37,0
23,1
13,3
0
16,7
84,1
7,5
8,5
85,1
10,1
4,7
75,7
9,7
14,6
81,9
8,9
9,1
76,6
9,1
14,3
77,8
5,6
16,7
Total
11,1
36,6
26,3
11,6
0,4
14,9
77,1
7,6
15,3
34
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