International Student Barometer: housing, job opportunities lacking

The semiannual International Student Barometer revealed that non-Dutch scholars at the RUG are generally satisfied with most aspects of their university experience, but housing and employability continue to lag behind.

The majority of categories – learning, living, support services, arrival and satisfaction – received a neutral score above 3. The scale of the survey ranged from 1 to 5, from low to high.

But in a greater vote of confidence, 87 per cent of the surveyed students said they would recommend studying at the RUG to others, which is above the Dutch, European and global average among participating schools.

Good place to be

Scores for the 2014 edition were largely in line with previous years. The most positive aspects have improved steadily since the RUG began participating in the survey in 2010, but the negatively-assessed aspects have shown little improvement over time.

Students were generally positive about the caliber of the education offered at the RUG. The level of English spoken by support and academic staff, learning spaces, safety and how good of a place Groningen is to be received the highest marks.

Spatial Sciences

Each faculty was also analyzed based on where the internationals study, except University College Groningen, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Faculty of Philosophy due to too few respondents.

All faculties scored above a 4, but the Faculty of Spatial Sciences was graded the most favorably among the RUG faculties with a score of 4.51 and UMCG was the lowest: 4.02. The University’s score on an institutional level was 4.24.


As for the cons, the biggest issue among students was their ability to earn money while living in Groningen – that category received a disapproving score of 1.93. Work experience in general was assessed critically with a score of 2.47.

Job prospects post-graduation were also questioned: careers advice, employability, and opportunities to teach (for postgraduate students) all scored below a three. Satisfaction with financial support for students has also declined by .26 since 2010.

Accommodation is a perennial challenge for international students: the cost of accommodations received a 2.38, which is a slight improvement in recent years. But finding housing has become less satisfactory since 2012, which is the only other year with available data.

‘We don’t have any influence’

Housing and jobs are categories in which the RUG performs worse than other Dutch institutions, both of which were further discussed in the University Council committee meeting on Thursday morning.

Rector Elmer Sterken acknowledged that both matters have been plaguing Groningen for much of the past decade, but that housing in particular is difficult to change. ‘We are independent of the corporations, we can speak with them but we don’t have any influence on them.’

Sterken also hoped that efforts taken at the RUG in recent months to improve employability would be reflected in a higher score in the next barometer.

In total, 1,213 students who represented 86 different nationalities were surveyed. The initial results of the survey, which is conducted twice a year by i-graduate, were made available this spring.