" Bicultural students are doing less well. I want to do something about that."
Why are students with a bicultural background doing less well than their fellow native students? And what can we do about it? By paying more attention to diversity and inclusiveness, Mellody Angela (21), third-year legal scholarship and tax law, thinks. Thanks to Students 4 Students and the help of MyFuture, she and three of her fellow students have received a subsidy for an ambitious programme for Erasmus School of Law.
If you're studying at the law school, you're by definition following a course that will help people - whether you're a judge, a researcher or a tax adviser,' says Mellody. The law faculty is also located in Rotterdam, a very multicultural city. Add to that the fact that several studies have shown that students with a bicultural background sometimes do less well than their fellow students, and I knew: I want to do something about this.
Enter MyFuture, a unique programme at the EUR that offers Rotterdam students the opportunity to make the most of their study time. In the case of Mellody, this means that, together with three fellow students, she drew up an action plan to work on diversity and inclusiveness within ESL. And with success: the independent jury of the Students 4 Students project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, has awarded 50,000 grants for the ambitious plan of Mellody and her fellow students. The faculty itself received a subsidy of 300,000 euros to further develop MyFuture in the coming years.
Although the idea behind her grand plans was immediately clear - more attention for diverse and inclusive education - the idea of giving concrete form to her plans was still quite vivacious. That's why Mellody asked Melis Bilgin, Imane Wijsman and Rashida Tijtel for help, three students who she knew were also working on this subject and knew a lot about.
End result: in all three years of a bachelor's programme at the ESL, attention must be paid to this subject. In the first year, we want to organise a debate with propositions about diversity and inclusiveness. Students will then be able to work with it, using the skills that lawyers need to have, such as presenting and arguing.
In the second year, Mellody would like to build on this with workshops and lectures in collaboration with MyFuture. For the last year - if it is up to Mellody and her fellow students - a separate minor on diversity and inclusiveness will be developed. The subject must simply be laid down in the curriculum,' says Mellody.
Until then, MyFuture remains a good way to increase the chances of study and work success in addition to regular education, says Martijn Roos, manager of external affairs and project leader MyFuture at Erasmus School of Law: 'Alumni often have the feeling after their studies 'if only I had known this then'. To stay ahead of that, we try to give MyFuture students the skills they will need in practice right from the start of their studies'.
We already gave workshops in personal leadership and goal setting during the Pre Academic Programme and during the study we followed that up in MyFuture. We see good results of that. In addition, we are also going to set up a system in which students get a buddy.
Time for a party because the subsidy has been received? Sure, but Mellody remains realistic, because yes, 'we are very happy, but we are also really aware that the real work is yet to begin'. In any case, Roos is already proud: 'The project of Mellody and her fellow students will hopefully increase the opportunities for this group even further and reduce the study dropout rate. By the way, I only discovered the possibility for this application a week before the deadline. So congratulations to our students who have created the application within a week!'.