Building Bridges

1 Feb 2017 | Deborah Valentine

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First appeared in  THEXPAT Journal Spring 2017 publication


Building Bridges


For our regular columns in The XPat Journal, ACCESS, in 2017, will focus on how it represents, informs and manages the expectations of the local community and its service providers about internationals. In keeping with this advocacy role, ACCESS has recently partnered with three other leading members of the international community and launched a foundation, the International Community Advisory Panel (ICAP). With this initiative, ACCESS, together with DutchNews, Amsterdam Mamas, and ABC’s project ‘English Books for Dutch Kids’, aims to provide an independent forum that collects and reflects the views of the international community on issues affecting them. It is a research-based foundation that will reach out to the international community in different ways.


Surveys – Ours & Others

Tailored and targeted surveys are one way of doing this. In the course of the coming year we will follow up the survey done at the end of 2016 on Education, with similar surveys on Housing, Healthcare and Work and Inclusion. By inviting internationals to participate in these surveys, we aim to gather the data required to share the comments and opinions of the people for whom policies or services are being designed. Between the founding members of ICAP there is much awareness and knowledge about the international community. This, however, in order to be of impact and be of use, requires a more systematised form of processing and presenting. Data affirming, confirming or dispelling facts are necessary if we are to capture a true picture of what internationals have to say on a variety of topics, and what their needs and interests are.


We invite you, readers of The XPat Journal, to sign up to the ICAP mailing list if you also wish to have your opinions heard on any of these matters. Rest assured your details will only be used to share surveys and update you on the results.


We also know there is a wealth of information and data ‘out there’. Think how many surveys take place, within industries, academic institutions and communities. By providing a repository for these surveys, ICAP also hopes to build a broad database of knowledge – not only to complement the development of our own surveys, but to also enhance the reporting we subsequently do.


If you know of such studies, surveys, or reports on topics related to expats or internationals in the Netherlands, then please share, or encourage the authors to share their findings with us.


Surveys – Recent & Future

As mentioned above, ICAP’s first survey, on Education, was carried out at the end of 2016. As the results were being compiled to be reported on, we at ACCESS could not help thinking that the many insights and comments made by the respondents may have an even greater purpose. Besides sharing their concerns about the availability of international education and the difficulties in manoeuvring the Dutch educational system, many of the comments could in fact be interesting and useful contributions to local policy discussions about ‘internationalising education’. After all, who better to weigh in on the debate, than internationals with experiences from all around the globe? The results of the Education survey will be made available on the ICAP website – so if you are curious about the results, do join our mailing list.


Around March 2017, ICAP will launch its second survey, on housing, a subject ACCESS wrote about in the Winter 2016/17 issue of this publication. In our article, we focussed on the ‘myths’ surrounding the international community when it comes to housing. The myths shared, and the article, were based on our own work and the inquiries we receive from those who turn to our helpdesk for support. We are very curious to find out what the data says about our own assumptions and how we are representing them to service providers targeting the international community.


For more information about ICAP, or to subscribe to the surveys or submit findings, please visit or write to


For more information about ACCESS and to reach out to our helpdesk



Call 0900 222 23 77 local rate 20c per minute

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