'Dutch Education Aims to Deliver Students Who Can Solve Complex Global Challenges'

HTCampus Expert updated on : 23 Jan 2017
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Nuffic’s Netherlands Education Support Office (NESO) India is responsible for promoting Dutch Higher Education Institutions (DHEIs) in India.

Nuffic’s Netherlands Education Support Office (NESO) India, which based out of Bangalore, is the official representative of Dutch Higher Education Institutions (DHEIs) in India. 

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Jasmin Beverwijk, Director for Nuffic Neso India, talks about everything that Dutch higher education system entails and how it delivers students with excellent competences and skills that enable them to successfully contribute to the demands and needs of industry. 

Q. Have you observed any changes in the fundamentals of education system? If yes, what are your observations?

A. Yes, I totally agree that there are some substantial global changes in the education system of today. However, keeping in mind the global education challenges, the Dutch Higher Education is very intense and takes place in small settings. The classroom comprises of 25-30 students so that teachers can spend ample time with their students. Since the numbers of students in a classroom are relatively low, there are lots of interaction and discussion between the students and the teachers. Moreover, as internationalisation is highly important for the Dutch education system (Dutch higher education institutions are required to deliver global citizens), all courses include international components, such as possibilities to conduct a short or longer course abroad. There are many international students in a class (1 out of 10 students is an international student), conducting research abroad, obtaining training on international competences. Finally, all courses include practical components to assure that students are trained and are able to apply them to real cases.

Q. What all measures can be taken to make education sustainable and of quality?

A. In order to assure that education meets high quality standards and remains relevant and sustainable, all programmes should include practical components (i.e. allow students to apply their knowledge in the field), global exposure. Last but not the least, all programmes should be taught in such a setting whereby students are stimulated to question and debate the topic that is taught.

Q. In your opinion, what is more important for a student - global exposure or industry connects?

A. Both aspects are equally important. Of course, depending on the field of study more emphasis can be put on one of them. However, all Dutch study programmes relate to debates around global issues and have relation with industry. As Dutch study programmes include practical components and have an international dimension, students will get exposure to the global world and can connect to industry if that is of interest for them.

Q. Do you feel there is a gap in the skill set of graduates and the industry's requirement today? How can that be abridged?

A. In the Dutch system fortunately, higher education institutions deliver students with excellent competences and skills that enable them to successfully contribute to the demands and needs of industry.

Q. What are your thoughts when it comes to comparing education in India with education offered abroad?

A. India certainly has a number of excellent universities. However, we must acknowledge that there is a large number of Indian universities that unfortunately do not meet international standards. Certainly, there are universities in other countries that cannot deliver required quality as well. Therefore, we always recommend students to carefully see if the university is accredited and if the accreditation agency is professional and acknowledged as a highly reputed organisation. No matter what, it is always good to get global exposure, hence from that point of view it is good to study abroad for a while.

Q. What is the need-of-the-hour in the education industry, irrespective of the field?

A. This also depends on the region. In Europe and America for example, it is generally agreed that until recently, staff got most of its credits for research output and not for education. This has resulted in perverse incentives whereby education did not get sufficient attention. Education and research should be more balanced, hence, nowadays education should be more valued. However, in many countries in Africa and Asia, more emphasis should be put on research. Generally, due to financial deficit, research cannot be conducted, hence universities are not able to contribute to innovation.

Q. As the new Director for Nuffic Neso India, what is your primary focus?

A. 1) Informing Indian students about the advantages of “Study in Holland” through combination of online and off line promotion. Although, face to face consultation remains important, in the future, Indian students will find us more and more online, for instance through webinars and online fairs

2) Contributing to developing of new knowledge and learning platforms. For instance, Neso India is currently in the process of setting up a living lab on health in relation to ICT/Big data. Dutch and Indian students, together with their professors, are jointly conducting research projects on this with support of Dutch and Indian businesses

3) Connecting alumni with the potential future employers, both in the Netherlands as well as in India

Q. How is Netherlands education system when compared to other countries?

A. The Netherlands is known for its outstanding quality of education. All 13 research universities are ranked in the top 200 Times Higher Education. In the Dutch higher education system, students get a lot of attention from professors. Classes are small, which allows discussions and debate. Students are stimulated to question what is taught. The aim of Dutch education is to deliver students who are able to think out of the box, apply their knowledge and dare to look for alternative and innovative solutions. This is exactly what the world needs nowadays given the complex global challenges such as quest for sufficient food, energy and global warming.

Q. Are certificates and degrees offered at Netherlands Government/Private Universities valid all over the world?

A. All public Research Universities and Universities of Applied Science are accredited and therefore, valid worldwide. With regards to private institutions, many are accredited, though not all. Students can easily check in advance if the private institution is certified on the website or contact Nuffic (www.epnuffic.nl)

Q. What is the job scenario in Netherlands?

A. Currently, the unemployment percentage in the Netherlands is extremely low, which is 5.6%. In other words, the job market is doing very well. The Netherlands has many Dutch companies (e.g.  Philips, Unilever, Shell, Akso Nobel and International Banks such as ING) that operate worldwide and always search for international talent. In addition, the Netherlands also hosts international companies such as Google, Tata Steel Hoogovens) who hunt for the best brains. This means that an Indian graduate can find a job worldwide, including the Netherlands and of course in India.

Q. Is there anything that you want to suggest students who plan to study in Netherlands?

A. Studying in the Netherlands is serious business in the sense that students need to study hard to obtain their degree. At the same time there is still ample time to enjoy student live. As 1 out of 10 students is international, one will immediately experience this international vibe whereby international students (of course together with Dutch students) want to enjoy their stay and travel throughout Europe. As you will get a Schengen Visa, you can easily travel throughout entire Europe.

Q. To be a successful professional, what attributes should a student possess/ inculcate?

A. Apart from possessing all required knowledge of a particular study area, the student should also possess skills and have a certain attitude. At the end of the day, it is all about contributing to solving problems, no matter what the particular field is. In order, to be able to do so, the student should be able to apply obtained knowledge to a problem, (s)he should be curious and be able to look at problems and possible solutions from different points of views. The student should be able to understand that all possible solutions will affect regions/groups and individuals in a positive or negative way. He or she should be able to anticipate on this. Moreover, the student should be able to work in a team and with people who may have different interests or opinions. These are all aspects that the students learn in the Dutch higher education.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article by the interviewee are her personal views and has nothing to do with HTCampus.com.

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