Which measures and facilities are needed to enable more students from the former Netherlands Antilles to successfully finish their studies broad? This was the central question during the conference “Studying abroad” on September 29 and 30 in Kralendijk, Bonaire. Participants included, besides the study counselors of the islands, representatives of DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs), Study Financing and the various education-related institutions, responsible for the preparation and guidance of students who leave their island to study abroad.
Under the guidance of moderator Inge Berben (director of Fundashon FORMA for adult education and training) the participants exchanged knowledge and experiences and reached consensus about a set of measures, needed for the improvement of the following aspects concerning studying abroad:
- the preparation of future students on their own island;
- the guidance of students on arrival and during their studies in The Netherlands and in the region;
- the establisment of a central database containing information about recognized learning institutions in the region.
Representatives of institutions from Curaçao, Aruba, St. Maarten and the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands provided insight in the way they tackle the preparation and guidance of students abroad through presentations. These made clear that the islands currently approach these aspects in their own way. The participants agreed that an integral approach is needed, combining the best practices and experiences of the individual islands. They decided on the formation of a central platform ”Studying abroad”, with participants from each of the islands. The platform’s mission will be to identify, initiate and coordinate the actions needed to create a blueprint for a central preparatory and guidance program. This will enable each island to subsequently make its own choices for the establishment of the preparatory and guidance programs, based on the islands’ own vision and responsibility. The platform will become operational before the end of this calendar year to formulate clear goals and the activities needed to realize them. The formation and start-up of this platform will be guided by the department of OCW (Education, Culture and Science) within the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN), which also initiated this conference.
Experiences from the islands make clear that students who pursue their studies in the region in general have a higher success rate and experience fewer problems adapting to the life and culture abroad as well as language-related problems that usually stand in the way of a successful studying career. An inventory of schools for further education in the region proved the existence of an ample offering of recognized education institutes in the Caribbean region. Besides that, it became clear that cooperation agreements with some relatively expensive institutions can result in possibilities for reaching college fees that can be paid completely or in great part through study financing.
The program was concluded by the Foundation “Studiekeuze 1 2 3” (independent supplier of study selection information within the Netherlands, through the website studiekeuzeinformatie.nl amongst others) which presented a proposal for expanding the existing database of European Dutch education institutions by adding the offering in the Caribbean region. How this information should be included in the database and disclosed through island websites, will be one of the topics dealt with by the platform “Studying in the region”.
Press release RCN October 1, 2014