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How realistic is it to find a job in the Netherlands and fit your studies around it?
One of the most frequently asked questions we get is about finding work in the Netherlands. As student financial support is closely linked to your employment status it is no surprise that this is a major issue. We asked several students at Dutch universities to share their experiences of finding employment and on the impact of employment on their studies.Have you got a 32 hour a month job? If so, how easy was it to find? How was the application process for the StuFi (Studenten Financiering) grants and loans? How long did it take before you received any money from the government?
“No I currently do not have a job; the work load is quite intense so especially during the first year I wanted to adjust. But judging by this year, I think it is possible to have a job alongside and there are many bars and restaurants where speaking Dutch is not a requirement. Students should know that when applying for Dutch finance, one condition of a job requires you to have Dutch health insurance*, and I have heard that the paper work is quite extensive.”
“I did have a job (it was 40h/month.) I speak Dutch so it was relatively easy to find, but if you cannot speak Dutch then you really need to look hard and long. Most people offer you a so-called '0-hour contract'. If you want to apply for StuFi (Studenten financiering) you need 3 payslips. I quit my job before I applied, yet I know that you (1) need to prove that you have been working for 3 months already, (2) and you need to stay in employment continuously for 12 months - otherwise you have to pay it all back. A friend of mine did this and he had to wait an additional 3 months before it kicked in (so 6 months all together once starting the job**.)”
"I did have a job, and it didn't take me very long to find one when I looked seriously. I was washing dishes for very small money really, and the reason I left was because of the unwillingness of the manager to change my contract because I felt it was not worth it without the grant. I have many international friends who work, and receive the grant, and are very happy with delivering pizzas on a scooter, or being a bartender etc. The process to apply for the grant for me got a bit repetitive, continually asking for changes to get exactly what DUO wanted (financial headquarters). Friends of mine have also had to wait a little longer then they had expected for the grant."
“I do have a job. I work for Volkswagen in Arnhem. Regarding trying to find a job though, I won't lie. I found it to be really, really difficult. I was on the verge of giving up as my money was running out and obviously I needed a job to get the 'studiefinanciering'. However, my Dutch friends again got me a job working with them at Volkswagen and Audi in Arnhem. You should also remember now, I recently heard that the Dutch government plan on increasing the number of hours that foreign students have to work in order to receive the studiefinanciering. I think it's going to be bumped up to around 12 hours per week, as opposed to 8.*** The application process is straight forward again though, although you will need a copy of your work contract before you are eligible to receive it. You need to work at least three months before you can receive the student finance.”
*If you don’t have a job, the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) should be sufficient for health insurance requirements, at least for the first year you live abroad (the terms for its use are set by the issuing government, ie the UK government for British students). If you have to get insurance it will cost around €70 a month. However, you will be eligible for a rebate of €68 a month if you are working so the overall cost is negligible.
**You can apply for the Studiefinanciering as soon as you have a job. You just won’t receive it until you have been working for three months and it won’t be backdated. So, for the first three months you work you receive no additional support. If you apply early it should come through earlier though.
***There is currently no government in the Netherlands and there won’t be one until September. The last government was talking about increasing the hours EU students need to work from 32 hours a month to 12-14 hours a week. It is quite possible that this will change when a new government has been chosen. However, it is also possible that this will not be viewed as a priority and the situation may remain unchanged for some time. It is important to be aware that this may change because if there is a change, its impact will be felt very quickly and there is unlikely to be a lengthy adjustment period.
Is it realistic to work 32 hours a month alongside your studies?
“It is possible but very difficult. I quit because of the work-load I had, yet it is not impossible! If you are very disciplined and can stick to schedules then it is quite possible. I myself stumbled big-time thinking I could do that, but that's just me.”
“Yes it is do-able.”
“Working 32 hours a month is no problem for me. I work 8 hours every Saturday, which is no problem. But don't forget about the increase that could happen for future students. This will not apply for current students who are receiving the money though*.”
"I study Econometrics, and I find it extremely demanding. But I still feel working as well as studying is definitely possible, and 8 hours can be one Saturday day time, and you're done!"
*It might very well have an impact on students who are currently working 32 hours a month. If the rule changes, it will change for everyone.
Be realistic when assessing your employment options. If you only speak English there will be opportunities but not nearly as many as if you can speak a little Dutch. In our experience students who need jobs will find them but maybe not immediately, and maybe not one that they are particularly keen on.
Some universities have temp agencies on campus and they are very helpful in terms of trying to connect their students to employment opportunities. Universities themselves often hire international students so there may be opportunities to work on campus.
It is also worth bearing in mind that you are going to the Netherlands to study and there is definitely some adjustment required to make sure that you can cope with the workload on your course. It would be unwise to plan on getting a job until you have found your feet. All of which means that you probably shouldn’t expect to have a job and have worked the necessary three months until the end of the first semester in February, at the earliest. Therefore, unless you have sufficient resources to finance the full cost of the first six months (not including tuition fees) you are likely to struggle. As soon as you start working you will of course have your part time earnings but these are unlikely to be more than €300 a month unless you are working more than 8 hours a week.
While Dutch higher education is likely to be significantly cheaper than British higher education in the long run, in real terms you will probably have to spend more of your own money in the first six months than you would do if you stayed in this country.
It is also worth reiterating one of the points made above; you need to work for all 12 months of the year so if you are planning on taking a lengthy summer holiday this could be problematic. The Studiefinanciering is made available to you on the basis that you are resident in the Netherlands and contributing to the Dutch economy, not on the basis of your student status. If you don’t work all 12 months (or have a contract for 32 hours a month for every month) then you might have to pay back any grant or loan you receive.
For the amounts available to British students please refer to the loans and grants page of this website.
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