Number 200,000 is an international

The 30,000th student of the RUG was an international. Now, the 200,000th resident of Groningen is as well: a Brazilian lecturer at the RUG. It's very convenient for the university, but is it just a coincidence?

Last week, Daniel Rodrigues Valesin, a Brazilian lecturer in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, was named the 200,000th resident of the city of Groningen. A ceremony at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon will make it official.

Valesin’s area of expertise is probability theory, and he believes in the probability that it just so happened to be him. ‘I don’t think I was picked on purpose, like that I wasn’t exactly that number so they changed it a little bit so that I would be that number’, Valesin says. ‘I just feel that it may as well be a coincidence.’

The person after 199,999

Valesin and his wife moved to Groningen from Brazil recently for his work at the RUG, and they both registered at the municipality in early September. Like David Davies, who is from Wales and was honored as the 30,000th student to enroll at the RUG last month, it’s a nice symbol for the city and the university alike that these milestones are being represented by international students and employees.

But that’s simply the way it worked out, says Johan Dijkema, a spokesman for the municipality. Roughly 44,000 international residents live in Groningen  and Dijkema says that Valesin ‘was just the next person to register after 199,999.’

‘It is a fact that many international students study here and international employees work here, so the chance was large that it would be an international’, he says. ‘Ten years ago, there were only 750 international students and this year, it’s already more than 6,000.’

Good symbols

RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens concurs. ‘Almost 25 percent of the first year students who enrolled this year were international. So, the chance that the 30,000th would be international was one in four. It’s not as if we explicitly looked for that.’

Be that as it may, Deekens and Dijkema acknowledge that Davies and Valesin are good symbols the RUG’s goal to be known as an international institution. ‘It shows how strong the university’s international character is’, Deekens says. Dijkema agrees that the city is also happy that these benchmarks of growth are represented by non-Dutch people.

Even Valesin can see that for himself, both professionally and personally. He will be teaching a class of more than 100 students in November and expects to have students of many nationalities. He thinks the city is a good place to be an international: ‘Groningen is fantastic, for sure. I’ve felt at home in the city very quickly.’