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International students in the Netherlands often struggle with loneliness and high work pressure, according to student unions ISO and LSVb. They also experience a higher threshold for getting help, the student unions said to AD.

Over 115,000 students from abroad are studying full-time at Dutch universities or colleges this academic year. According to the unions, nearly 70 percent say they’ve felt lonely recently. The student unions often talk to international students struggling with the strict rules, the coronavirus crisis, and not having anyone to talk to.

“International students bring knowledge, experience, and culture to the Netherlands. But in return, they get a lot of loneliness, a high workload, and a lack of help,” ISO chair Lisanne de Roos said to the newspaper.

According to the student unions, a big problem is a rule that requires EU students to work at least 56 hours a month to qualify for student grants and a public transport card. “For many students, that is unfeasible in addition to full-time study. As a result, they cannot lend and earn too little to support themselves. Just like Dutch students, they should receive that crucial financial support,” said LSVb chairman Ama Boahene. They want the Cabinet to lower that to 32 hours.

The unions also called for a prevention policy in mental health for international students. “Structural and targeted research into, among other things, the well-being, housing, and social integration of international students is also necessary to know what is really going on,” they said.

The Education Committee in parliament will discuss internationalization in education on Wednesday.

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