This research paper aims to give an insight in how students perceive their intercultural study setting and their position in it. It strives to provide insight in the learning processes, both regarding the designed, planned curriculum and the coincidental, spontaneous moments of learning. Students who choose an international study experience almost all have an idealised image of becoming part of a global academic community, whether or not fuelled by the promotion of universities. By analysing learning experiences of students in intercultural learn-ing environments in the Netherlands, this research demonstrates how the other students and the study environment play an essential role for most participants. In addition to choosing a specific field of study, the intercultural study environment is important and "learning from and with each other" is perceived as a major added value. During their study period, almost all students experience obstacles related to being part of a diverse group in the academic environment or in their personal living environment. The difficulty of collaboration in group assignments rises in direct proportion to the group’s di-versity. Opinions differ about the way in which they learn from this and to what extent they are equipped (by the university) to apply these encounters as learning moments. The two research environments, EUR/ISS and RUAS/IB, have similarities, but also differ greatly in their approach and considerations in the field of intercultural education. This research covers both approaches and explains the differences and possible reasons. At EUR/ISS many of the students indicate that they miss the explicit guided learning in the field of dealing with differences and (intercultural) conflicts. Contrasting this, at RUAS/IB a lot of attention is paid to this in the curriculum and by the staff, despite it often not being highly valued by the students surveyed. EUR/ISS students mainly learn to interact informally with students from all over the world, although the strongest relationships often remain those with fellow students from their own region / language area. Their acquaintance with the Netherlands and the Dutch remains limited. The opposite is true for the international stu-dents in the RUAS/IB program, they are a minority in the (English-speaking) student groups and are often used to impart more cultural awareness to mainly Dutch students. In the context of increasing intercultural awareness, as also envisaged in the UN Sus-tainable Development Goals, it is worth seeking out ways of global learning that suit indi-vidual students with all their different perspectives. This paper hopes to contribute to that by providing potentially relevant insights.

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Biekart, Kees
Social Justice Perspectives (SJP)
International Institute of Social Studies

Kos, Harriet. (2020, December 18). Student perspectives on intercultural classrooms in higher education in the Netherlands. Social Justice Perspectives (SJP). Retrieved from