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Foto: Elsie Vermeer

One mathematics class: 12 Chinese students, 12 Koreans, 1 Japanese and 1 Georgian

Sterre van der Hee,
6 december 2018 - 10:03

Cambridge Education Group gives non-EU students that extra boost as they prepare for their application to the UvA. Most of the students in the advanced mathematics classes come from Asia.

For some students, it’s not so easy to apply to the UvA, says mathematician and lecturer Herman ten Napel (71). ‘My students are from outside the EU, and are therefore not automatically enrolled. They have to complete another programme first.’


Most of the students in his two advanced mathematics classes come from Asia. Twelve are Chinese, twelve Korean, one Japanese and one Georgian and all of them want to study at the UvA. Each has therefore enrolled in a one-year full-time programme provided by the Cambridge Education Group, an education company that leases rooms at the UvA but which is also active in the United Kingdom and the United States.


On its website, the company refers to the Netherlands as ‘the birthplace of Nobel Prize winners, daring philosophers, ground-breaking artists and scientists,’ and the Dutch as ‘entrepreneurs and explorers’.


More serious

On completion of the programme, most of the students hope to start courses such as economics or econometrics. ‘My students raise the bar of these courses’ says Ten Napel, who worked as a lecturer at the economics faculty for thirty-eight years. ‘They regularly rank in the top 20 students per course. Compared to the Dutch, students from Asia often have a superior maths education. They also have a different mentality: more serious.’


Cambridge Education currently runs eleven classes, two more than last year. Students praise the quality of maths education in Amsterdam and the English language skills of the Dutch. Whether they will stay in the Netherlands to work many cannot say. Some are curious about other places in Europe while others must go back to South Korea for conscription.


Foto: Elsie Vermeer

Yiyi Chang (18), China

‘Initially I was a bit afraid of traveling from Beijing to Amsterdam, but already after a few days in the Netherlands I felt comfortable. The UvA is a well-known university when it comes to mathematics, which is good for my future career. I find mathematics a lot of fun, and do not have to study much at home. And I love how great you feel after solving a logical problem. I would like to study accounting like my mum, or maybe actuarial sciences because these will land me a good job with a high salary so I will be able to take good care of my family.’

‘The math lessons are difficult but the teacher is very nice and passionate’
Foto: Elsie Vermeer

Eun Ho (19), South Korea

‘I had to think about my age for a second, because in South Korea you are automatically one year old when you are born. In South Korea, I did a bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering, which I really liked. My father works in the medical machine business, but I would like to work at a data agency later on. I don’t find my lessons very difficult, but it still feels so good when you solve a problem: as if you were a hero. I also like the Dutch very much, they are polite. I learn manners from them, like holding the door open for other people.’

Foto: Elsie Vermeer

Kanghee Lee (21), South Korea

‘I wanted to develop my maths skills and I heard that this was a good place for it. I also like the Dutch because they speak English very well. The math lessons are difficult but the teacher is very nice and passionate. I don’t know yet what I will do in the future. I hope that I can start the UvA bachelor in econometrics. I’d like to work as a banker or a researcher. That would be cool.’