Understanding Society

Tilburg University has been a reliable provider of high-quality education and research for more than eighty years. We specialize in the social sciences and humanities and we seek to make a structural contribution to society.

Xiaoyue Zhang

image xiaoyue zhang

Chinese student Xiaoyue Zhang (26) is doing a two-year Research Master’s in Economics at Tilburg University and is in her second year now. Her plan is to stay in the Netherlands for another four years to finish her Research Master’s and obtain her PhD.

"I started my studies at Wuhan University in China. After studying mathematics for some time, I realized that my main interest is in social sciences. I admire universities in the US because there are lots of interaction and inspiring discussions in class. At the age of twenty, I transferred to Johns Hopkins University in the US and after that I studied at London School of Economics (LSE) in the UK. After London, I did an internship in a consulting company in China. This internship made me realize my true ambition is in academia and I was ready for a PhD program to challenge the frontier of knowledge. I heard about Tilburg University from a professor at LSE and found the Economics department at Tilburg University is a good match with my research interest. Professors at Tilburg University are friendly, intelligent, and willing to discuss all kinds of potential research ideas. The campus is quiet with a beautiful nature and away from noisy cities."

Solve real world questions

"I am currently working on corruption, collusion and industrial organization. I really like my program because I feel like I am getting closer and closer to my goal to solve real-world problems as an economist. Many courses I am taking here at Tilburg University are related to what I want to do later, though some are less relevant at the moment. I think those less relevant are more valuable in the long term, because they help to build the big picture which is indispensable for solving real-world problems. After the PhD program, I will be very familiar with my own field. Being able to publish decent academic papers is one thing, while being able to make meaningful contributions to society is another. Most real-world questions require knowledge in multiple fields. One need to know something of everything and everything of something. Those less relevant courses are part of the training on 'knowing something of everything'. The diverse courses and rigorous PhD program offered in Tilburg provide me exactly what I need."

Practical insights to social problems

"After finishing my PhD, I want to go back to China and stay in academia. If I am successful with my research on corruption and industrial organization, I wish to provide a different way of evaluating the existing market structure and economic policy in China as well as other developing countries that share similar problems. If I’m going to be even more successful, I wish my research will provide practical insights to social problems and help decision makers design even better systems."

Being supported is heartwarming

"I am confident that the work that I am putting a lot of effort in, is going to be very promising. Receiving this alumni scholarship is very encouraging and it helps me support myself. Before, I had to rely on my family and but now I can make my own decision more independently. Furthermore, being supported by alumni is always heartwarming because you can feel the connections between you and people ahead of you. You also know there are a group of kind people ready to back you up when you are in trouble. This also makes me think when I become an alumna, I want to relay this help to future students."