Student & employee representation for international students

Both regular universities as universities of applied sciences are administered by Executive Boards. However, they do not function alone. Students and staff are also involved in matters regarding (proposed) policy, finances and (the quality of) education: student & employee representation (Dutch: medezeggenschap). Within Dutch Higher Education, it is required to facilitate student & employee representation. The Higher Education and Research Act (Dutch acronym: WHW) is the basis for student & employee representation rights, but these rights can be expanded upon in regulations. Both regular universities and universities of applied sciences have many different levels of administration that can be distinguished from each other. To each of these levels belongs a participation (- and representative) body also known as student & employee representation.

For international students studying in the Netherlands, it is also possible to become involved in student & employee representation. However, there are a few points that should be considered:

Language barrier

Often, Dutch is the working language in student & employee representation bodies. Especially when the body is composed of exclusively Dutch people. However, if the student & employee representation body includes international students, it is of importance to formulate regulations regarding the body’s procedures. Some student & employee representation bodies agree upon English only as their working language. Other bodies agree upon both English and Dutch as working languages, using the means of translation. Yet other bodies offer the option to international members to abstain from attending meetings spoken in Dutch. They may not be able to follow, but the international members certainly are free to attend meetings in Dutch.

Numerous institutions allocate more of their attention to the internationalisation of student & employee representation, in order to facilitate the involvement of international students in the representation.

HEARabout this!?

Have you heard about the Higher Education and Research act? This is a Dutch law describing the rights and duties of students and educational institutions. It is very useful to the student and employee representation to know all about this law. Still, it is difficult to understand. In order to help you understand this law the LSVb made the HEARA!? available for download here (free). You can also order a hardcopy of the HEARA!? for just €7,50.


Are you a member of an Educational Programme Committee (EPC, Dutch: Opleidingscommissie)? Then the EPC-guide is a must have! You can find all the information you will need as an EPC member in the number 1 guideline handbook for EPC’s. The book is available for download here (free). You can also order a hardcopy of the EPC-Guide for just €7,50.


Often, compensation is made available to the students active in student & employee representation. The regulations regarding the provision of compensation are formulated in University Documents (Regeling Profilerings Fonds), such as Financial Support Students (Dutch acronym: FOS) regulations. It is of importance to pay attention to the content concerning the right to compensation. In some cases, the rights for Dutch and international students from EU member countries vary from those for international students from countries outside of the EU. In the student council board, you have a say about these kinds of documents, so be attentive to this and investigate the regulations of your institution.