The Study Buddy Project, Erasmus University College (EUC), The Netherlands


PROJECT TITLE: Study Buddy Project – EUC Peace Envoys
STAKEHOLDERS: –          EUC Peace Envoys

–          Former refugees, now studying in the Netherlands

–          EUC Students

–          Samen door Samen (Dutch NGO)

TARGET AUDIENCE Former refugees who now study in the Netherlands

EUC students who will be helping these former refugees

PROJECT PERIOD: Start pilot: May 8, 2019

Start regular program: September 2, 2019

End regular program: ongoing

OBJECTIVE: –          Help former refugees reach their study goals

–          Help EUC students get outside their ‘EUC bubble’

–          Establish connections between former refugee students and EUC students

May 6, 2019 Introduction presentation for EUC students (approximately 30 attendants)
May 8, 2019 Start Study Buddy Pilot
June 27, 2019 Meeting with Samen door Samen to review the pilot and reestablish future goals
July 11, 2019 Survey sent out to possible Study Buddies to collect information to match EUC students with former refugee students as well as possible
Last week of August Stand at the EUC Intro Week, with the possibility to reach out to 200+ new first year students to inform them about the Study Buddy Project and ask them to become a Study Buddy
November 11, 2019 Delayed start of the regular Study Buddy program. The first duos are now meeting (bi)weekly.
PROJECT OUTPUTS: –          Three former refugee students and three EUC students involved in the Study Buddy Project pilot

–          Several EUC faculty and staff members involved in establishing the EUC Study Buddy project

–          Several Samen door Samen representatives involved in establishing the EUC Study Buddy project

–          At least 300 EUC students reached with our project proposal

–          At least 30 EUC students attended the first Study Buddy Project information meeting and showed interest in becoming a Study Buddy in the new academic year

–          Five EUC students are now meeting five refugees on a (bi)weekly basis. More will hopefully follow

DISSEMINATION CHANNELS: Facebook: @peacemakersrotterdam

EUC Facebook groups

Facebook events: “Buddy Project: Information Session”

EUC emails, university TV screens, etc.

Setting their objective as to “help former refugees reach their study goals, help EUC students get outside their ‘EUC bubble’, and establish connections between former refugee students and EUC students”, EUR’s Peace Envoys have developed a project to buddy up refugee students and Dutch students, so that they could study together and Dutch students could help the refugee students with problems they encountered at school or in the Dutch society. In order to be able to do this in a systematic and sustainable way, as well as to match the right people together, they have collaborated with Samen door Samen, a Dutch NGO that focuses on guiding migrants towards improved self-reliance and participation in the city of Rotterdam.


As their project developed, it came to surface that the volunteering EUC students and the refugee students they were matched with had different expectations from the project. They found out that the refugee youth needed more support than they had initially assumed. They often had a job and a family to care for in addition to their university studies, meaning that they scheduled studying together with their EUC buddies in the few free hours they had left in a week and they thus expected their buddies to actively help them with their assignments. Rather than just study together, they needed tutors. With this insight, the Peace Envoys restructured their project and implemented the following changes:

  • Shifting the focus from studying together to tutoring: EUC students would tutor the refugee students, meaning that they would have to commit to preparing the meetings and to actively working with the refugee students during these meetings.


  • Communicating the aims of the programme clearly to participants: EUC students would meet with the supervisors from Samen door Samen before being matched with a refugee student. In this meeting, the supervisors would explain what was expected of the EUC students i.e. that they would have to commit to being a tutor two hours each week for at least six months. The supervisors from Samen door Samen would also meet with refugee students to explain what was expected of them.


  • Supervising the participants more closely: The pairs of study buddies would be assigned a supervisor from Samen door Samen, who would check in with them each week. Here, it would also be emphasized that if the EUC students and/or refugee students had any questions or experienced any problems (no matter how small) they could always reach out to this supervisor.


These changes have contributed to making the first round of the Study Buddy Project a success. The Study Buddy Pilot then, is testament to what has been the objective of the Peace Envoys Programme from the beginning, namely to take the time to discuss and experiment with different programme structures to find those structures that will foster sustainable projects, thereby create a structural change within the environment of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and of the city of Rotterdam at large.