Corona: Large proportion of international students experience emotional problems

Over half of the international students in Dutch higher education often feel anxious, lonely or bored. Over 40% suffer from depressive feelings. Students who also receive on-campus lectures are more positive.

Many international students who study in Dutch higher education have emotional complaints. More than half of them often or always felt anxious, lonely or bored. More than 4 in 10 international students say they often or always have depressive feelings. Students who experience more emotional complaints are also more negative about their study experience in the Netherlands.

Nuffic is hosting a new edition of Nuffic Meets on Tuesday 23 March at 16:00, during which the well-being of international students and how they can best be supported will be discussed.

This is the conclusion of our survey among 350 international students that study at Dutch educational institutions. It concerns the feelings of international students during the first half of this academic year, when universities were mostly limited in their opening hours for physical education due to the corona measures.

Students who attend on-campus lectures are more positive and have fewer emotional complaints

The group of students who have the opportunity to partly go to a university to study are more positive than the group who study mainly online. They experience positive emotions more often and negative emotions less often. They are also more positive about their social life. Three quarters of the students who started a study in the Netherlands in September last year are neutral or positive about this choice.

Nuffic director Freddy Weima reacts with concern: "This research shows that international students are hit hard by the corona crisis. These students have a smaller safety net in the Netherlands than Dutch students. That makes them a vulnerable group. We know that higher education institutes pay a lot of attention to this, and this research underlines the importance of this."

Concerns similar to Dutch students, focus policy on group with complaints

The concerns that international students have are often similar to those of Dutch students. Recent research by ResearchNed and student organisation ISO shows that many Dutch students also struggle with loneliness.

This means that measures taken by Dutch higher education institutions to combat this can be effective for all students who struggle with these problems, whether or not they come from the Netherlands. For example, many international students say that they do not have a place where they can study in peace - a problem also experienced by many Dutch students.

For educational institutions, the most important thing is to focus policy specifically on the group of students who experience social and emotional problems, because these complaints are often linked to a poorer study experience and poorer study results.