Caribbean students inform members of parlement

A group of about twenty students from Curaçao, Aruba, Sint Maarten, Bonaire and Saba entered into discussions with Caribbean parliamentarians. They did this during the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation (IPKO) that is taking place these days in The Hague. The students shared their experiences and called on parliamentarians to pay more attention to their situation in the Netherlands. The WeConnect Foundation was asked to organize these students for this meeting on June 8.

Our students from Saba


The students, who ranged from second or third year students to those who had been in the Netherlands for some time, followed an MBO, HBO or WO study in The Hague, Amsterdam, Nijmegen or Leiden. They showed themselves motivated for the conversations and indicated that this was the first time for them that they had come into direct contact with the representatives. They felt that the islands often fell short in preparing for studying abroad: “We had two information evenings at school, which is not enough to understand the culture shock, for example.”

Cost of living

Aisaiah, a Sintmaarten Public Administration student from The Hague University of Applied Sciences, indicated that his first year was ‘completely wasted’. The pace at which everything had to be done at the same time and the high cost of living surprised him. He indicated that he worked 3 to 4 days a week, while European Dutch students complained about a part-time job of 8 hours a week. “Also because I have no big financial support system at home in Sint Maarten.” Other students also calculated how little they had left in their ‘living budget’ per month. The threatened fine for slow studying was mentioned as yet another aggravating measure.

International environment

Many stories, both from English-speaking Saban students and from Curaçao and Bonairean students, expressed the need for an international and pleasant study environment. For example, Curaçaoan Architecture student Nathalia said that she had consciously chosen The Hague University of Applied Sciences instead of the Technical University in Delft. After her pre-university education (VWO), she opted for HBO and she really liked it; she joined the Student Council and made both Caribbean and international friends.

Own contribution

Armani, who comes from St. Maarten, placed the responsibility for participating in Dutch society on himself; “You have to put yourself out there.” Be communicative, don’t get offended too quickly when European Dutch people ask questions and learn to network, were his tips. Faisal from Aruba explained how difficult he found it to choose the right study: “Nobody knows the Applied Psychology study in Aruba. Only when I came here did I discover that there was so much more and through trial and error I managed to find the right study at Leiden University of Applied Sciences.”


The parliamentarians indicated that they found the students’ stories valuable. “Not everything is new, but it is good to hear it from different voices again. On our part, there must be incentives to bring back these well-educated island children. We really need them!” The conversations continued informally during a subsequent hot lunch.


The portfolio of Kingdom Relations will be attributed to the PVV
Island Council and Executive Council aim to enhance democratic processes

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