More than 40% of all PhD candidates in the Netherlands are international PhD
candidates. PNN wants to raise awareness for the specific needs of these PhD candidates and the issues they encounter. International PhD candidates are not easy to reach, for the POs nor PNN. Thus, it is necessary to develop effective strategies for communicating with this group. A special focus on PhD candidates who arrive in the Netherlands on a scholarship from their home country is warranted. Mostly, these scholarship PhDs have to get by on a budget that is often lower than the salary of employed PhD candidates and sometimes even lower than the Dutch minimum wage, too. Although some universities provide a so-called ‘top-up’ scholarship, this is not the case everywhere due to legal complications. Nevertheless, institutions must prevent international PhD candidates from coming to the Netherlands on a scholarship that is insufficient to the extent that they cannot provide for themselves. Thus, support is important, for example for housing, especially in cities where the average rent is high. Another group that requires special attention are the so-called ‘sandwich PhD candidates’, who are affiliated with two universities, one of which is usually an institution abroad.
Integration in the Netherlands, including into the Dutch academic system, is challenging for many international PhD candidates. The PNN PhD Survey 2020 shows that although many international PhD candidates experience challenges related to cultural differences and language barriers, more than half have no access to integration assistance. In addition, international PhD candidates more often suffer from mental health issues and become victims of undesirable behavior, such as discrimination. Because of differences in (work) culture, inadequate knowledge of their rights, and institutional complexities, international PhD candidates may have difficulties standing up for themselves. PNN is committed to providing high quality information in English about the rights and obligations of PhD candidates. Also, PNN will advocate for fair remuneration by means of a ‘top – up’ system. Furthermore, PNN wants to encourage universities to offer more accessible integration services as well as mental health support structures.