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China the priority for exchanges with the Netherlands, says top diplomat

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-07-18 09:24
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The Netherlands is making collaboration with China a priority to expand bilateral educational exchanges, said Bas Pulles, deputy head of mission at the Dutch embassy in China.

"China has been the priority on educational collaboration. ... That means we are still looking for an increase, not only in terms of numbers (of Chinese students studying in the Netherlands) but also for a sharper focus on quality," Pulles told Xinhua after the Orange Tulip Scholarship award ceremony in Beijing on June 29.

"This year marks the 10th anniversary of the OTS scholarships in China. The past decade has seen remarkable growth in the scholarship program," he said.

In 2008, the value of OTS scholarships available to students on the Chinese mainland was about 10,000 euros ($11,572) offered by one Dutch institute for higher education. In 2018, this total had reached nearly 770,000 euros offered by 20 Dutch institutes for higher education, according to Nuffic Neso China.

Headquartered in The Hague, Nuffic is a Dutch organization for internationalization in education, which has 11 offices around the world, including one in Beijing.

Pulles said educational cooperation between the Netherlands and China has continued to maintain momentum, adding that universities interested in collaborating in the fields of science and research visit the Dutch embassy every week.

There are more than 200 partnerships between the two countries in higher education and 30 partnerships in secondary education, according to Nuffic Neso China.

Overseas students from China and the Netherlands are acting as informal ambassadors to strengthen mutual understanding and foster friendship between the two countries, Pulles said.

The Netherlands is a good place for Chinese students to pursue their studies abroad, and the country is friendly to foreign students due to the open-mindedness of the Dutch people and their willingness to understand different cultures and lifestyles, he said.

"Holland is the 17th largest economy in the world. Some of the world's biggest multinationals, including Philips, Heineken, KLM, Shell, ING and Unilever, are Dutch," he said. "International graduates can apply for a one-year residence permit to help them find a job or start a business."

Pulles advised Chinese students to participate in university and community activities, like voluntary work and students associations, and to make friends with international students.

Over 8,000 Chinese students are studying in the Netherlands, representing the second biggest group of international students there. There are around 2,000 Dutch students currently in China.

"I think studying in China is attractive, because China will become so important. ... If you look to the future as a young (Dutch) student, I would say you should spend some time in China, because sooner or later it will become useful for your career," Pulles said.

"The educational levels of universities in China are increasing rapidly. ... You can find good education here."

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will also provide more opportunities for bilateral educational cooperation, Pulles added.

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