University Pioneers


Interview EDI-Magazine

Manal El-Bied, one of our Pioneers, has shared her path to higher education in an interview for the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Magazine of Utrecht University.

Her story shows the perseverance and guts that often accompany a first-generation student. They have multiple and different hurdles to overcome to get to a University. Manal exemplifies why it is important to keep following our dreams and that it is also pertinent to have the right support to do so. Read the entire interview: >here<

A part highlighted:

(EDI Magazine, 2024)

“Looking back, the recommendation I was given at the end of primary
school was too low, and this slowed down my educational career,” says
Manal El Bied.

“I did really well in primary school, it came easily for
me, and then the national tests showed I was ready for senior general
secondary or pre-university education. But the teacher said, ‘you have a
migration background, and we have doubts about whether your Dutch
is good enough for senior general secondary, let alone pre-university
secondary.’” And so the school adjusted its recommendation to the
lower general secondary track.

“My parents signed off on it,” she says.
“They didn’t really understand what pre-university education was, and
you tend to listen to people who are in a position to know better.”
(EDI Magazine, 2024)


It is not a given that everyone gets the same opportunities, even though you would expect this in the Netherlands. Even with good intentions, young people can end up on a different path than where they can make the most out of themselves. It requires a lot of extra willpower from young adults that often come from more vulnerable backgrounds, to get where they feel at home. For some like our Pioneers, that place is the University. If someone works so hard to get here, that should be acknowledged and nurtured.

We believe it is important that no dreams are left unfulfilled. Therefore we strive to help even more Pioneers feel at home at the University in the coming years. By doing so, we want to reduce unnecessary dropouts and show that we actually value these unique backgrounds.

If you are reading this and you know more first-generation students, please help us grow by pointing them to the programme! You can register: >here<

Thank you Manal for your openness and EDI Magazine for the beautiful publication!