Blog: WUR should support international students in a better way

Many international students choose to study at WUR, but they pay a much higher price than most people realize.
Kaavya Raveendran. Photo: Sven Menschel

As of the academic year 2018-19 intake, there are a total of 2,769 international students at WUR. And assuming that most of them are enrolled in one of the many English taught Master’s programme of the university, we can safely say that around 45% of the Masters’ students at WUR are actually international students. Now let me direct you to another figure comparison.

A native student spends around 28,000 euros on his master’s while an international student spends approximately 62,500 euros on the very same study. And when the total tuition fee for an EU student is 4,170 euros, the same education costs a non-EU student 37,350 euros. As astonishing as this is, I don’t complain. An international student like me seeks out for exposure and quality education, and then chooses to pay that amount to be at WUR. What I do complain about is this: the lack of scholarships available for international students.

80 times more

Let me tell you an unknown fact about most of us: students coming from countries with no governmental aid are actually funded by their own parents or heavy student loans. We don’t have the obligation to repay that money back to our parents, but we bear a truckload of guilt for having made them pay. And in case of loans, we have the constant pressure to repay it as soon as we can. Even though our parents are able to afford and pay the hefty tuition fee amount, they actually pay a much higher price for our education: unlike here, our parents don’t earn their money in euros, they earn it in the native currency. And when you convert the said amount to the native currency, the study expense amount becomes 80 times the original amount. That is, they have to spend almost half of their life savings to let their child’s dream of studying at WUR actually come true.

International students have no opportunity to really save up or earn money, to pay back loans or their families

As I said: for the kind of experience and value that WUR adds to the student, it is all worth it. But isn’t there another way to make the life of such students and their parents a little easier? For many of my fellow students, I know the affordability is not that easy. Many struggle and few don’t even make it here — in spite of being worthy, qualified, and most importantly: admitted by the university. Now, can’t the university support some students to really help them enjoy their education here without having the pressure to make money to repay the amount as soon as they graduate? WUR is already stretching out its arms to help Master’s students from Africa, likewise it might be nice to focus also on other developing countries not covered so far, like the south Asian countries.

The increased risk of some companies not wanting to fund the visa of international students and therefore not hiring them, is already a cause of worry. Additionally, the inavailability of part-time student jobs, due to not being able to speak Dutch, is another unfortunate condition. Therefore in Wageningen international students have no opportunity to really save up or earn money, to either support their own lives or their families back home.

Dreams destroyed

I do realize studying abroad is expensive, and I did make an informed choice about doing so a year ago. But that doesn’t make me un-see the fact that there is barely any financial help from the university to support international students. And since with every academic year the number of international students is just increasing, I really hope some provision is made to lead the flow of aid in their direction. This way the university can really show and encourage the international inflow of talented minds and at the same time help to build many dreams which are destroyed even before seeing the light of day.

Kaavya is a master’s student of Food Technology.

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