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Ina Hofstee, International Staff Advisor, about the new information centre for international staff

Ina Hofstee
Ina Hofstee

The University of Groningen is proud of the increasing numbers of international staff: more than 1,200 staff members are from abroad. The University has therefore set up a special information centre for international staff: ‘’. Worldwide Newsletter visited International Staff Advisor Ina Hofstee to find out more.

Showing the way

My goal is basically to show our new international staff members the way around the University and to guide them through the maze of regulations, facilities and departments. The University of Groningen offers a great variety of facilities and there is an incredible amount of information available. However, for outsiders it can be quite a challenge to sort everything out by themselves. An example? I was once asked to find a prenatal exercise class taught in English for a pregnant employee. It took me some phone calls and eventually I found what I was looking for, thanks to my network both within and outside the University.

Living signpost

I would like to be a ‘living signpost’ for international staff and their partners. For these partners especially a great deal of work still needs to be done. They arrived with their partners at an unknown country, with a different language, lacking a daily job and social network. This may be harder than we can imagine. I have been in close cooperation with Groningen municipality in order to arrange participation in the civic integration course, which includes learning about Dutch society and Dutch language. This will definitely help our newcomers feel at home more quickly.

There is always an alternative

Every Thursday a meeting for international staff and their partners is organized, where they are informed about all kinds of subjects. We also invite guest speakers or organize excursions. We are currently working on a new project: the ‘buddy system’, which will be like a mentor programme. A personal buddy can help new expats find their way around Dutch society, if only by visiting a supermarket or having a cup of coffee together. We would also like to compose a 'survival guide' for international staff, which will be accessible online and interactive, so that everyone can contribute.

What I like about this job? I don’t like to get ‘No’ for an answer. There is always an alternative and I would love to help people find it.

Questions for Ina? Contact her at staff or visit the website.

Last modified:16 March 2020 4.47 p.m.