In general, the students of Avans University of Applied Sciences are very satisfied with the education they receive. This also applies to international students, although they regularly complain about the lack of an international environment. Eda Kücük from Turkey and Nicolas Rodler from Germany are 2 new student ambassadors. During the weeks to come, they will brainstorm on ways to ensure that Avans can make international students feel more at home.
The lack of an international sense of community is partially because of the language, according to student ambassadors Eda (Industrial Engineering & Management) and Nicolas (International Business). Dutch students speak English at a good level, but outside of classes they do not seek out much contact with their international classmates. Eda and Nicolas think it is a shame but can also understand this behaviour. ‘For Dutch students, there is no need to maintain international contacts. They can manage by only speaking Dutch to their fellow Dutch students,’ explains Eda. ‘It is the same in Germany; students prefer to speak their mother tongue,’ says Nicolas.
Open-minded, cheerful, and progressive are a few terms that Eda and Nicolas use to describe their classmates. Eda and Nicolas are very positive about the level of education and their lecturers. ‘This is the first time that I had such close contact with lecturers who were so helpful,’ clarifies Nicolas. Eda confirms this, ‘Avans doesn’t have a strict hierarchical structure, which is significantly different from Turkish universities.’
While the pair are positive about the quality of their study programmes and their lecturers, they do not feel a sense of liveliness at Avans. ‘When classes end, the liveliness dies down. There’s never a cool activity, lecture, or cultural event to attend,’ sighs Eda.
Nicolas says that Avans does not organise enough out-of-school activities, explaining ‘When you stay abroad, you expect fun events to be organised. These types of events are sometimes organised, but only as a one-time thing. As an example, at the start of the year, the school held a barbecue for international students. It was very cool, but it shouldn’t be limited to a one-time event. The university should organise fun things on a regular basis.’
Both students believe that the university is not doing well if it is falling behind in terms of inclusivity. That is why they, together with other ambassadors, are working to improve Avans’s international climate. Nicolas says, ‘As an example, we will talk to fellow international students and people from the International Office. They are already working on creating a greater sense of community here. They also really give us the freedom to come up with ideas, which shows that the goodwill is there.’
Eda will also brainstorm on how to improve the international community. ‘This starts with organising activities outside of Avans, where both Dutch and international students are welcome. Doing this would reduce the divide between those groups, while also ensuring that students have something to do and that the university becomes more than a working environment.’ Eda also visits her home country, Turkey, as a student ambassador to share her experiences at Avans. ‘I am really happy with my experience at Avans, so I am naturally open to recommending Avans,’ she explains. She laughs, and continues, ‘If we make sure that Avans is a more enjoyable place to be, then I’ll have more to brag about!’
If you participate in an English-taught programme and would like to discuss how to improve the international climate at Avans, then please contact the International Office by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Although the ambassadorship is not a paid job, Avans reimburses all travel expenses. In addition to giving lectures, the students also serve as point of contact for students from their home country.