One in three students self-censors in education

Up to a third of Dutch students censor themselves towards teachers and fellow students. In Groningen, too, students seem to watch their words to some extent.

According to research conducted by Technopolis on behalf of the Dutch Lower House, 34 percent of Dutch students feel pressure to restrain their ‘expressions or behaviour’ when speaking with teachers. When talking to fellow students, 22 percent feel a similar pressure.

What’s the situation like in Groningen? A small street interview sample indicates that self-censorship isn’t prominent. But it does exist.


‘No, absolutely not’, responds law and history student Nienke Struiksma (19) when asked if she feels she needs to apply self-censorship towards her teachers or fellow students. Nienke isn’t the only one to respond like this: comments like these were the most common.

Others mentioned that it’s fairly normal to adjust one’s behaviour in different social situations, since you talk differently to your friends than you do your family. ‘That’s no different in an academic environment than in other social situations,’ says Areti Panidou (29), an energy and climate law student.

And while nobody admits to self-censoring, some acknowledge choosing their words very carefully. ‘I am cautious not to offend people’, says English student Thomas (23). ‘But I’m not afraid to have my own opinion.’


Despite most students not feeling the pressure to censor themselves, the Intercity Student Consultation (ISO) is worried about the substantial minority that does feel this way. ‘Within higher education, there should be a culture where students feel safe to learn from each other’s ideas’, says ISO chairperson Demi Janssen.

‘These disturbing figures show that, too often, there isn’t a safe learning culture. This not only hampers the learning process but also undermines the social safety within our educational institutions.’



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