Column: Malone

Why are we treated differently?

First, I’d like to welcome all the new international students to TU Delft. The TU is a high-quality academic institution with lots of opportunities for everyone. Unfortunately, being a buitenlander (foreigner) can be challenging, because for mystifying reasons we’re often treated very differently from Dutch students (or sometimes it’s EU students being treated differently than non-EU students). Sometimes Dutch bureaucracy is just trying to catch up with increased numbers of foreign students, but sometimes we are flat-out taken advantage of. Here are a few examples.

Housing: you’re probably being hosted by Duwo. They will probably try and exploit you somehow. Don’t let them. For example, Duwo used to charge students in short-stay housing 10 euro a month for plates. Thanks to hard work by the Delft International Student Society (Diss), these dish sets are now being offered for a flat fee at cost, or about €35. I guess Duwo thought that if they could get away with charging a student €200 over two years for dishes which cost €35, they may as well. So when they inevitably try something else like this, watch out!

Work: restrictions will vary, but buitenlanders are allowed to work as students, typically for up to 10 hours a week if you’re from outside the EU. Unfortunately, the student employment office Stud will not help you in any way if you’re not from the EU. I have no idea why this is, but when I went in they couldn’t even recommend any additional resources. Fortunately some other international students have done some homework on this, and one place you can go for freelance jobs is the ZZP-10 agency.

I understand that there will be some differences in treatment between international and Dutch students, and sometimes this difference makes sense. For example, international students have their own orientation week, geared towards their unique needs. But most of this disparate treatment is wrong. When a friend of mine who just graduated from the Sustainable Energy Technologies program told me that his graduation ceremony was separate from the Dutch students in his program, I was a little shocked. But I’ll tell you what I told him: if you find yourself being treated like this, speak up. Tell Diss, which works to address the concerns of international students on campus. Also tell the rector magnificus, the International Office, and your academic program coordinator. Remind them that the tuition for international students was raised by 50% this year, and tell them why you think something is wrong or unfair. If your friends agree with you, tell them to speak up, too. Maybe you don’t understand why Duwo charges you for something, or you think the university should help non-EU students find part-time work (it’s the least they can do after raising our tuition €4,000). This actually works: for example, thanks to student complaints to Diss, Duwo recently stopped entering student residences without notice or authorization (as if that policy ever made sense to begin with. In fact, it was illegal). You can find out more about recent victories and continuing efforts at the Diss website, but their actions are driven by student input. There is some momentum to affect change right now, so let’s not lose it. Let your voice be heard!

Diss: www.diss-online.nl or board@diss-online.nl
Rector magnificus: rector@tudelft.nl
International office: internationaloffice@tudelft.nl
ZZP-10 agency: www.zzp10.nl