Contextual Factors That Enable and Restrain Social Network Formation of Dutch Erasmus+ Students


  • Yentl Schoe Tilburg University
  • Christof Van Mol Tilburg University
  • Michael Buynsters Oberon



social networks, interaction patterns, the Netherlands, Erasmus , international student mobility


When studying abroad, international exchange students generally establish a new social network abroad. However, how international exchange students develop their social networks over time remains a blind spot in the academic literature. In this paper, we therefore analyze the initial formation and development of such networks among six Dutch Erasmus+ students. Starting from homophily theory, we particularly focus on the factors that enable and restrain initial social network formation and interaction patterns. Methodologically, we rely on a longitudinal qualitative approach, whereby we repeatedly interviewed these six students over time. Our findings reveal the importance of three main contexts in the initial social network formation of Erasmus+ students, namely the pre-mobility phase, the living place, and the social space. These findings provide insights for practitioners on which contexts to focus on when developing strategies to foster the integration of international exchange students at host institutions.

Author Biographies

Yentl Schoe, Tilburg University

Yentl Schoe, MA is a researcher at Studelta. She works on the distribution of knowledge among schools in the Netherlands. She obtained a master in Sociology at Tilburg University in 2020, and wrote her master thesis on the adaptation processes of Dutch exchange students. E-mail:

Christof Van Mol, Tilburg University

Christof Van Mol, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tilburg University, the Netherlands. His research interests are international migration processes, patterns and outcomes, with a specific focus on international student mobility. He published extensively on these issues in leading journals in higher education and migration studies, and his work received several academic awards (e.g. 2016 Best Book in Sociology of Migration, ISA; 2020 ASHE Award for Significant Research on International Higher Education). Email:

Michael Buynsters, Oberon

Michael Buynsters, MA, is a researcher-consulent at Oberon, an independent institute for educational research and consultancy. Oberon works at local, regional, national, and international levels for councils and governments, the Netherlands initiative for Education Research and several national and international associations. Michael conducts research on the internationalisation of education, cultural education, and student care arrangements in the Netherlands. E-mail:


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How to Cite

Schoe, Y., Van Mol, C., & Buynsters, M. (2021). Contextual Factors That Enable and Restrain Social Network Formation of Dutch Erasmus+ Students. Journal of International Students, 12(1), 141–155.



Research Articles (English)