Annual International Student Survey 2021 | mental well-being highlighted

Experiences of international students studying in the Netherlands

Afbeelding kaft rapport Annual International Student Survey 2021

03 May 2021

Studying abroad can be lonely, particularly now in corona time. A reason to focus the Annual International Student Survey (AISS), which has been conducted among international students annually since 2018, more on mental health. The AISS is an initiative of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), LSVb and ISO (acronym for the Dutch National Student Association). The AISS examines the challenges international students face in the Netherlands. It is the only survey of its kind that’s organised by students and focuses solely on international students. The results will be presented to politicians and policymakers to inspire them towards improving the international students’ experience. ECIO highlights the findings around the well-being of international students below.

The mental well-being of international students 2021 vs. 2020

The number of international students studying in the Netherlands this year increased by 13% at universities and decreased by 2.7% at higher vocational education institutions compared to last year. In 2020, more than 80% of the 558 respondents said they experienced average to (very) high feelings of friendship and happiness. More than 75% felt on average to (very) much at home in the Netherlands. However, more than half indicated that they experienced a lot to (very) lot of stress because of the high study pressure. More than 25% of the respondents indicated that they were (very) lonely.

In 2021 the results clearly indicate that in general the mental well-being of the international students is not doing well. 65% of the 737 respondents experienced high to extreme feelings of stress. 56% have experienced psychological problems since September 2020. About half report (very) high levels of irritability and loneliness since September 2020. Almost a quarter of the students experience little to no feelings of joy. Also due to the loss of side jobs, because of corona, over a third of the respondents experience (severe) financial problems since September 2020.

” I could not feel any lonelier. Since the beginning it was difficult for me to make friends and when I started making some friends the lockdown started”  – international student (Source: AISS)

A factsheet is composed with the highlights of the AISS 2021.

Annual International Student Survey (AISS)

The AISS inventorises experiences about education and higher education institutions, work, social inclusion, the Dutch system, housing, welfare, and reasons to (not) stay. The survey results provide insight into possible improvements to the experience of international students; as a tool for politicians and policy makers.

Collaboration on student well-being

Higher education institutions work together within the National Network of Student well-being and via LinkedIn for exchanging experiences and knowledge and discussing challenges. As higher education institution, you can also join this Network and or this online community. Please note that the main language is Dutch. Students in higher education can share experiences, problems and current developments via LinkedIn on student participation.