EUR Bridge Project

As a result of the large influx of refugees to the EU since the summer of 2015, the number of refugees in Rotterdam has increased considerably. A unique element in the context of Rotterdam is that refugees are  assigned to one of two largely parallel integration programs shaped by the municipality or a privately-funded organization; Stichting Nieuw Thuis Rotterdam (SNTR) founded by Stichting de Verre Bergen. The 200 families of the SNTR programme are provided with housing, can participate in intensive language courses, receive social support, as well as career guidance. Stichting De Verre Bergen has commissioned the Bridge research project from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam to research the functioning and effects of the SNTR programme.

The Bridge project consists of four sub-studies, namely: 1) monitoring of outcomes with the primary aim of describing refugees’ integration process; 2) the process evaluation that investigates the design and implementation of the SNTR programme; 3) the effect evaluation that researches the extent to which changes in refugees’ integration process can be attributed to the services provided by the SNTR programme; and 4) in contrast to the other sub-studies that focus on adults, the child research focuses specifically on the experiences of children and youth.

The Bridge project is characterized by its multidisciplinary theoretical embedding (e.g. sociology, public administration, psychology) and mixed methods approach, in which findings based on different quantitative and qualitative methods complement and reinforce each other in a meaningful way. The project employs the representative Bridge panel survey, which is collected annually for a period of three years (2017-2020) among 1200 refugees who have been living in Rotterdam since the summer of 2016.  Findings from the Bridge panel survey are complemented with literature and document research, in-depth interviews, participant observations, and focus groups. The findings of the Bridge project are published in publicly available reports to Stichting De Verre Bergen and the stakeholders involved, as well as in academic publications (in Dutch):


In the context of the process evaluation research, a detailed report has been published that maps out the design and implementation of the integration program Stichting Nieuw Thuis Rotterdam. The central findings of this reserach can be summarzied as follows:

Looking at the various parts of the program, we see that social counseling supports permit holders intensively in overcoming all kinds of bureaucratic hurdles and contributes to solving many practical problems ("putting out fires"). At the same time, we note that it is partly because of this that it is not always possible to systematically work on the self-reliance of the participants. We also see that participants are motivated and guided to orient themselves towards (a form of) work, and are supported in developing their skills and self-confidence. This part of the program could benefit some further development, for example by strengthening cooperation with the municipality of Rotterdam. The SNTR approach is also characterized by an intensive language program. For some participants, this clearly contributes to faster language acquisition, but there are also participants for whom the intensive program goes too fast. The language program also appears to be difficult to combine with (some form of) work.

In the first quarter of 2021, an overall final report of the BRIDGE project will be published, in which the various studies are described in conjunction and an overall conclusion is drawn about the operation and effectiveness of the SNTR program.

In the media

Jolien Klok about the report 'Stappen vooruit' at RTV Rijnmond. Interim results show that the integration of Syrian status holders is going better. This group is becoming increasingly self-sufficient and speaks Dutch better and better. The research still shows that labour participation remains low.

Team members

Dr. Meta van der Linden

Dr. Meta van der Linden | Research Manager

Meta van der Linden is a postdoctoral researcher at the Erasmus University’s Department of Public Administration and Sociology and research manager of the EUR Bridge project. In her current work, she examines the longitudinal outcomes and effects of integration policies on the structural and socio-cultural integration of recently arrived refugees. Van der Linden is responsible for the outcome and effect analysis of the EUR Bridge project and manages the project’s panel survey among refugees in Rotterdam. More broadly, she is interested in how members of different groups think about and engage with each other, and the extent to which these intergroup relations are influenced by the social environment. Van der Linden has published on prejudice toward and intergroup threat from people with a migration background, intergroup contact, social trust, and how the mass media affect interethnic relations. She has a background in social psychology (research master cum laude, University of Groningen) and holds a Ph.D. in social sciences (University of Leuven).

Research project Meta:  Outcome and effect analysis

The research project employs a large-scale quasi-experimental design in which ca. 1200 recently arrived refugees are placed in one of two largely parallel integration programmes by either the municipality or a new initiative by a privately-funded organisation; Stichting Nieuw Thuis Rotterdam (SNTR).

The refugees, who are largely of Syrian and Eritrean descent, are followed from the moment they are housed in Rotterdam; the second largest city in the Netherlands, up to four years later. We perform an outcome and effect analysis of how refugees’ socio-cultural (e.g. contact, identification) and structural (e.g. employment, income) integration processes develop in both programmes. The outcome analysis focuses on how the integration process develops over time. The effect analysis investigates the extent to which differences in refugees’ integration processes can be attributed to their participation in an integration programme. We use both quantitative (i.e. a three-wave panel survey) and qualitative (i.e. focus groups) methods.

Labyrinth | Research bureau fieldwork

The panel survey data are collected online as well as face-to-face by interviewers from Labyrinth. Labyrinth is a research agency that specializes in conducting fieldwork among respondents with various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Labyrinth offers a highly trained multicultural team of interviewers who speak multiple languages (e.g. Arabic, Tigrinya).

Meghan Rens, MA | Researcher

Meghan Rens works as a researcher in the Erasmus University’s EUR Bridge Project. She is responsible for carrying out a process evaluation of Stichting Nieuw Thuis Rotterdam (SNTR)’s integration trajectory, which she does in collaboration with the research bureau Regioplan. Additionally, Meghan carries out research on the immigrant integration policy of the municipality of Rotterdam. Meghan completed an Honours Bachelor at the University College Maastricht and a Master’s at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Meghan’s interests have always been focused on understanding the intricate policy issue of immigrant integration, and how policy should be designed to promote an effective integration process for refugees. Before she began studying this from an academic perspective, she explored this thematic through work at the International Committee for the Red Cross, as well as the Municipality of Rotterdam’s immigrant integration team.

Research project Meghan: Process evaluation SNTR programme and research on the local immigrant integration policy of Rotterdam

The process evaluation researchs to what extent at how the SNTR programme is implemented and whether it achieves the intended goals. To do so, stakeholder meetings have been organised, as well as individual interviews with members of SNTR staff, participants of the programme, and partner organisations in the city. Furthermore, the process evaluation includes insights from the EUR Bridge survey and an in-depth literature review.

In addition, Rens is also carrying out research on the local immigrant integration policy in Rotterdam.  This research makes an inventory of municipal policy and the associated activities for the integration of permit holders in Rotterdam. Given that the research is primarily intended to make a comparison with the SNTR program, it is more limited in scope than the process evaluation.

Research bureau

The process evaluation is carried out in collaboration with Regioplan, a policy research bureau with experience in mapping policy on issues such as, amongst others, immigrant integration

Barbara van der Ent - EUR Bridge

Barbara van der Ent, MSc | PhD Candidate

Barbara van der Ent is a PhD-candidate within the EUR Bridge Project. Her research focuses on Syrian children and youth in Rotterdam and more specifically on how they perceive their lives. Barbara did her bachelor Sociology (cum laude) and her research master Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. She specialized in topics of migration and integration in Dutch society, is trained in quantitative and qualitative methods and has extensive experience in qualitative data collection and analysis. Previously, she published on ethnic jokes and contributed to two studies at the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) on the social and cultural position of Moroccan-Dutch youth and ethnic labor market discrimination in The Hague. As a junior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and the Erasmus University Rotterdam, Barbara has taught courses on methodology, sociological theory and academic skills.

Research project Barbara | Children and youth

Since SNTR offers a programme for Syrian families, a significant part of their population consists of children and youth. Barbara van der Ent focuses on these young people in her PhD-research and conducts four sub-studies with different methods.

First, focus groups with children in the age of 8 to 17 were conducted in 2018 to explore children’s perceptions of living in the Netherlands. With an innovative method in the form of a board game, children talked about the things they like and dislike in the Netherlands, their family, their social contacts and the experienced social climate in the Netherlands. Second, a quantitative analysis based on the EUR Bridge Survey (wave 1) was conducted to explore the position of young status holders, aged 15 to 21 years old. For the third study, a child survey was developed and conducted in 2019 for Syrian children from 10 to 15 years old. Questions were on integration and well-being indicators, such as social contacts, family life, school experience, values, mental health, feeling at home, social in/exclusion and satisfaction with several topics. Special attention in the analysis will be given to the relation between parents and children. The fourth study (2020) has a qualitative character and will elaborate upon children’s feelings of belonging to different social contexts and how they deal with possible differences in norms and values between these contexts. In all studies, a child-centred approach is used and the experiences of children themselves are emphasised.

Prof. dr. Jaco Dagevos

Prof. dr. Jaco Dagevos | Project Manager

Jaco Dagevos is professor of Integration and Migration by special appointment at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) and a senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP). He is the project leader of the EUR Bridge research project commissioned by De Verre Bergen Foundation. He is also the project leader of the longitudinal cohort study on refugees, which SCP carries out for the national government in collaboration with Statistics Netherlands (CBS), Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), and National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Dagevos has published on topics such as the position of refugee groups, socio-cultural integration, the position of EU labor migrants, labor market discrimination and the relevance of the integration concept. He is closely involved in large-scale data collections among migrant groups, including the Survey New Refugees in the Netherlands, the Survey Integration Migrants (SIM) and the Bridge Survey conducted in Rotterdam for the EUR Bridge project.

Jolien Klok, MSc | Postdoctoral Researcher

Jolien Klok is a postdoctoral researcher within the Bridge Project, which is embedded in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology of the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. In general, Klok is interested in migratory processes, like integration and transnationalism. More specifically, she is interested in how places interact with a sense of belonging. Her mixed-methods doctoral research at the faculty of social sciences at VU Amsterdam, pertained to the transnational ageing of Turkish and Moroccan migrants in a European context. Her education included a masters in cultural anthropology and a bachelors in sociology, both at Utrecht University.

Research Jolien: Qualitative Effect Evaluation

The qualitative part of the Bridge project aims to advance interpretation of the quantitative impact evaluation.

How does the integration of refugees develop in the eyes of the beholder, and how do they themselves estimate and experience the effectiveness of the SNTR-program? The key focus of the qualitative studies is to lay bare mechanisms between integration policy and integration outcomes. The first qualitative study was conducted in 2018, whereas a second is scheduled for the summer of 2020.

Contact person | Dr. Meta van der Linden

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