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Third Country National Students in the EU: Caught between Learning and Working

Tesseltje de Lange

Third Country nationals coming to the EU for studies are welcomed and nudged into staying in the EU after their studies: their potential as future highly skilled migrants is supposed to be large and needed. But students often also work during their studies and the legal position as workers is dealt with in the Students Directive 2004/114/EC and its currently negotiated recast. TCN students may need to work in order to pay for study loans or to support themselves. As yet unskilled workers they often end up in low skilled jobs. This paper deals with these often overlooked TCN students as migrant workers. Their right to work is limited in the EU Directive to 10, or in the future maybe 15 hours a week; their right to equal treatment is codified in the recent Single Permit Directive 2011/98/EU. In the paper I will assess the objectives of these Directives and other EU Communications on retaining TCN Students for the EU labour market in the future, with a special focus on their position as workers during their studies. Next I will look at how the students' rights as workers are dealt with in practice and what dangers of abuse lie waiting? In the paper I will draw on recent studies on TCN students in the Netherlands as well as on my research of Dutch case law concerning employers sanctions after the illegal employment of TCN students.

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