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Dutch Queen's visit inspires ongoing exchange


20 September 2006

Dutch Queen’s visit inspires ongoing student exchange

The visit to New Zealand in 1992 by Dutch Queen Beatrix inspired a relationship between Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Groningen that is still going strong.

Having encouraged a number of Victoria University students to spend a semester in the northern part of The Netherlands, and even more Dutch students to experience Victoria University, the 10th anniversary of this student exchange agreement will be celebrated this week.

Professor Jacques Poot, Trustee of the New Zealand Netherlands Foundation, says the visit of Queen Beatrix resulted in a lot of activity throughout the Dutch communities in New Zealand and subsequent initiatives to strengthen the links between the two countries. “It was agreed that a relationship needed to be developed between education providers, which would encourage young people to consider doing part of their studies in the Netherlands.”

It took a few years to work out the finer details but the exchange agreement was signed in 1996 and the first two students from Groningen studied at Victoria that year. The first students from Victoria to travel to Groningen went the following year.

The 10-year milestone will be celebrated at a function this Thursday, 21 September, with representatives from Victoria University, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, the New Zealand Netherlands Foundation and the Federation of Netherlands Societies gathering with exchange students, prospective students and guests.

The New Zealand Netherlands Foundation has played a big role in highlighting the contribution Dutch immigrants have made to New Zealand society and in promoting cultural, educational and scientific links between the two countries.

“We’d love to see more of Victoria’s students travel to the Netherlands to do part of their studies,” says Professor Poot. “They seem to worry about the language but don’t realise that all Master’s courses there, and in some other parts of Europe, are taught in English so it’s not as difficult as they might first think.”

As well as being one of the founders of the New Zealand Netherlands Foundation, Professor Poot is a Victoria University PhD graduate himself. He Directs the Population Studies Centre at the University of Waikato and worked in Victoria University’s School of Economics and Finance when the agreement was established.

Victoria also has agreements with Tilburg University and the Utrecht Business School.


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