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Benefiting from low tuition fees and a range of courses offered in English you could join the 90,000 international students currently studying in the Netherlands

You’ll be surrounded by the tulips, windmills and canals that the country is famous for, and have the luxury of exploring by bicycle, the country’s preferred mode of transport.

You won’t be lost for things to do in this multicultural country – the Netherlands is full of museums, art galleries and vibrant nightlife, making it the perfect student destination.

Once you’ve exhausted all there is to see and do, you’ll be well placed to explore the rest of Europe – popular tourist destinations such as Paris, Brussels and Berlin are just a short train ride away.

The Dutch culture is open-minded and direct, and this extends to the classroom where an interactive, teamwork-based learning style is adopted. During your studies you’ll be encouraged to develop and express your opinions during discussions.

Dutch universities

The Netherlands is home to two main types of institution:

  • Research universities – offering research-based qualifications in an academic setting at Bachelors, Masters and PhD level. There are 14 of these.
  • Universities of Applied Science (UAS) – the country’s 39 UAS institutions offer more vocational courses, focused on practical application of training and education in the arts and sciences. UAS courses offer more opportunities for internships and work experience placements.

There are a smaller number of Institutes for International Education, where postgraduate courses are delivered by those with experience of working in developing countries. These are typically part of research universities.

Universities in the Netherlands make their mark in world rankings, with 13 Dutch institutions appearing in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020. The University of Amsterdam leads the way in 59th place, followed by Delft University of Technology and Wageningan University & Research in 63rd and 64th respectively.

The grading system in the Netherlands is different to what you may be more familiar with in the UK. Programmes are evaluated on a ten-point scale, where 1 constitutes very poor work and a 10 is classed as outstanding. The majority of students achieve between a 4 and an 8 in their degrees.

The academic year runs from September to June.

Degree courses in the Netherlands

Dutch undergraduate courses can be studied both full and part time, and while course length depends on the subject, full-time degrees typically take three years to complete.

You’ll be able to find courses in subjects ranging from architecture to zoology, but the country’s most popular programmes are in language and culture, engineering, behaviour and society and economics.

Popular student destinations in the Netherlands include:

  • Amsterdam
  • Rotterdam
  • Utrecht
  • Groningen
  • Maastricht.

Entry requirements for higher education courses in the Netherlands are decided by individual institutions. You’ll usually need to submit transcripts of your previous qualifications, a CV and cover letter and proof of your language proficiency, if the course you’re enrolling on isn’t delivered in your first language.

Use the Study in Holland – Studyfinder tool to search for degree courses in the Netherlands, and apply through the central applications portal Studielink.

Masters degrees

The Netherlands offers a number of Masters qualification:

  • Academic Masters – aims to develop the skills you’ll need for employment as well as your knowledge of one or many subject areas.
  • Research Masters – on a research Masters, you’ll engage in scientific research and hone your analytical skills.
  • Teacher training Masters.

Academic Masters typically take one year to complete but research Masters, teacher training Masters and courses in science, maths and engineering take two years.

Masters programmes at universities of applied science last between one and four years, and are designed to prepare you for managerial or leadership roles in a specific profession. Most students on these courses are already working in a relevant job and study part time – this allows you to practice as you learn and bring your experiences back to the classroom for personal development.

For most Masters courses you’ll need a Bachelors degree (or equivalent qualification) and proof of your proficiency in the language, where needed. Check with individual institutions for any specific entry requirements.


A PhD in the Netherlands involves working in close collaboration with a supervisor to research and write a dissertation. You’ll typically complete a PhD over the course of four years.

All PhD students are part of either a graduate school or a research school, which is a partnership between multiple research universities and institutions. Some universities also partner with private sector businesses, although this isn’t as common.

Once you’ve submitted your dissertation you’ll have to attend a public defence. Unlike in the UK, this is a big ceremony where you’ll be required to present your paper and field questions from an audience, accompanied by supporting staff. Your PhD must be published before this examination.

To be accepted onto a PhD you’ll need a Masters or equivalent qualification and proof of health insurance, either via a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or private policy. Many universities employ their students as full-time researchers, so if this applies to you you’ll also need to prove you’re capable of this responsibility.

Student exchanges

Students attending a UK university who want to study in the Netherlands can take part in the European Union’s (EU) education, training and youth support programme, Erasmus+. The scheme offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to many young people, with opportunities lasting from three months to one academic year.

Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative for any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation that is actively involved in education and training. However, your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in another EU country, of which the Netherlands is one. Speak to your institution for information on how to apply.

This information remains valid following the UK’s decision to leave the EU and will be updated if any changes occur.

Course fees

Students from EU/EEA countries pay a fixed rate of €2,060 per year (£1,784) for tuition, the same as Dutch students. For students from all other countries, the figure is higher – the national average for Bachelors programmes is €6,000 to €15,000 per year. For a Masters, this rises to between €8,000 and €20,000.

Private schools have the freedom to charge higher rates, and most do. A Dutch Bachelors degree, typically lasting four years, can cost EU/EEA students up to €36,000 when studied privately.

As well as tuition costs you’ll have to factor in the cost of living. Although this figure is likely to be higher in popular student areas, such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the Dutch government estimates you’ll need €800 to €1,100 a month for accommodation, travel, food and drink and other expenses.

Funding to study in the Netherlands

EU Masters students under the age of 55 can apply for a postgraduate loan from the Dutch government. To do so, you’ll need a Dutch bank account and citizen service number, which you’ll receive once registering your permanent address in the country.

The loan covers the cost of your tuition fees, and is paid into your bank account in monthly instalments. It’s your responsibility to then pay the university. Interest rates are applied to the loan from the day you take it out.

You’ll have a two-year interval following graduation, after which you must repay the loan in full within 15 years. Unlike the Student Finance system in England, the loan is not voided after the repayment period.

There are a number of grants and scholarships on offer to international students in the Netherlands – visit Study in Holland – Find a scholarship to search for opportunities.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for PhD funding you can use the European Commission’s (EC) researcher funding service EURAXESS.

Student visas

As an EU/European Economic Area (EEA) citizen you’re free to study in the Netherlands without a visa. Your university will register your attendance with the Dutch immigration authorities.

From all other countries you’ll need an entry visa (MVV) and residence permit (VVR) for the duration of your stay. To obtain these, you’ll apply through your chosen university and collect the necessary documents from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country.

If you’re staying in the Netherlands for longer than four months, you’ll need to register with the Dutch council Personal Records Database at your local town hall.

How to apply

Contact your chosen university directly to find out whether you need to apply directly or through Studielink.

Aim to apply as early as possible – most courses start in September and it’s best to begin preparing your application up to a year in advance. Some universities offer Numerus Fixus programmes, where the course has a certain set capacity, and for these, the application deadline typically falls in January. Check with your university to find out specific dates.

Language requirements

With more than 1,500 English-speaking courses offered at Dutch universities, and 95% of the population speaking some level of English, you won’t need to be fluent in Dutch to study in the Netherlands.

However, if you’re applying for a course taught in a language that isn’t your native tongue, you’ll need to prove your proficiency by taking a recognised test:

  • If you’re a non-native English speaker enrolling on a course taught in English, you should take either the IELTS or TOEFL tests.
  • If you’re a non-native Dutch speaker enrolling on a course taught in Dutch, you can take the NT2 or CNaVT.

Studying in the Netherlands presents a great opportunity to learn the language, even if you don’t need it for your course. Many universities offer beginner-level courses to international students.

Why you should study in the Netherlands

You’ve just left everything behind – friends, family, (probably) the love of your life and suddenly there you are at Schiphol with a stroopwafel in hand, the biggest textbooks in your school bag, clogs on your feet and “drop” in your hair, ready to study in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is an incredibly attractive country for international students and hundreds of them arrive here every year to study and this a reason why you should study in the Netherlands. The quality of education is among the best in the world, universities offer various English-language programs and studying in the Netherlands is affordable compared to countries such as the UK and the US.

A study shows that more foreign students are coming to the Netherlands to study and the numbers won’t be waning anytime soon. A total of 122,000 students from 162 countries follow a degree program at a university of applied sciences or university, according to an analysis by Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education. It is clear that the Netherlands is popular among international students and below are 10 reasons why you should study in the Netherlands.

1. Lots of English-taught programs:

The Netherlands has the largest range of English language programs in Europe. Almost every university has an English version of any programs taught in Dutch. Lecturers are usually bilingual and can interact with English-speaking students easily. In addition, more than 70% of the Dutch population speak the English language and this makes international students feel at home while they study in the country. There are lots of courses to choose from and communicating with classmates and teachers isn’t a problem at all.

2. Well-taught and quality programs for cheap:

The programs in the Netherlands are highly regarded at international level. In addition, the costs for school, lodging and ‘life’ are considerably lower than in lots of other European countries. Compared to countries like the U.S and the U.K, the costs of studying in the Netherlands is very low. For example, on average, the tuition fee in the Netherlands amounts to about € 2.000 – for students from the EU and less than € 7.000 for non-EU students (excluding feeding and accommodation costs), while the tuition fee in America is between $26,000 and $50,000 per year.

3. Unique ways of teaching and learning: way Dutch people teach is different from other countries. It is interactive and the students are taught not just to think for themselves but to work together in groups. You develop skills such as analysis, practical problem solving, working in a team and creative thinking. Studying in the Netherlands helps you learn how to develop your own opinion after having done thorough research and also asked other people’s opinions. In addition, students and teachers are seen as “equals“ as students are encouraged to always approach their teachers, have discussions with them and ask questions. Many students find this a pleasant way of learning. All this makes studying in the Netherlands unique and as an international student, you’d definitely love that, especially if you’re from a culture where teachers are seen as “demigods” whose words are sacred and you aren’t allowed to engage them in discussions during classes, correct them if they’re wrong or even criticise their methods of teaching. Yes, I’m talking about African and Asian schools and teachers!

4. An open-minded country that welcomes international students:

I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’re reading about how open-minded and “liberal” the Netherlands is. Of course, we live in times when the political climate may be a bit different from what it was a few years ago, but lots of cities in the Netherlands are very open-minded, filled with international students who are definitely enjoying their time in the country and also learning a lot about the Netherlands and her people. Take Amsterdam as an example, it is both a city filled with tourists, international students and people from all backgrounds. It is an open-minded city where I’m fully certain that any student who goes there to study will surely have a great experience. The international students who study in the Netherlands come from 190 different countries. The Dutch are open-minded and quite direct, making it easy to make contact with Dutch people and exchange ideas. This makes international students feel welcome in the Netherlands.

5. Good world (university) rankings:

The 2018 Global University rankings show that universities in the Netherlands are among the best in the world. Universities like the Vrije University, University of Amsterdam, Erasmus University and the Delft University of Technology are among the most highly ranked universities in Europe and the world. These universities have some of the best teachers, brightest students and well-funded and highly advanced research facilities. Universities in the Netherlands are therefore well-regarded and this makes them popular among foreign students. If you’re coming here to study, don’t worry, you’re definitely in good hands.

6. The world leader in technical courses:

The Netherlands is number 17 on the list of the largest economies in the world. Some of the country’s biggest brands are; Heineken, KLM, Shell, ING, Philips and Unilever. In addition, the Netherlands is a world leader in fields such as agriculture, water management, dyke building, dredging, banking and finance, art & design, logistics and sustainable energy, etc. International students can learn more about these disciplines in the Netherlands than in any other country. Imagine how awesome it would be to do a water management/dyke building course in a country where one-third of it lies below sea level, with the lowest point being 22 feet (6.7 meters) and is constantly battling the seas with her well-built and well-managed dykes.

7. Central location on the map:

A look at the map of Europe shows you how centrally located the Netherlands is. This makes it very easy to go partying or sightseeing in countries like Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc. You can take a flight and be in some of the neighbouring countries in less than 3 hours. You can also take a train and be in the middle of Paris in less than 5 to 6 hours. In addition to the good location and good transport connections to other countries, you also get discounts on travel as a student. What’s more fun than studying really hard from Monday to Friday and then taking a flight to Ibiza on Friday night, meeting up with friends, partying as hard as you can and taking another quick flight back on Sunday night? Yeah I know, nothing is!

8. Cheap student housing: finding accommodation in the Netherlands (especially in the busy cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam) can be quite a hassle, student housing in the Netherlands is also very cheap. In Amsterdam for example, there are student campuses with cheap houses made out of containers for students. Some of these accommodations are rented out by corporations and the wonderful thing is that it is sometimes possible to get a rent subsidy (huurtoeslag).

9. Student Grants:

This is my favourite part of studying in the Netherlands. I’m guessing most of us have seen Facebook videos of American students who are so distraught with their student loans. Some of them are so scared they won’t be able to pay back everything they owe in their lifetime. Others are so depressed by the loans, they’ve taken to abusing drugs. Well, that isn’t the case here in the Netherlands. Students are allowed to apply for grants or student loans from a body called DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs). To be eligible for student finance, however, you have to take a number of things into account. These are as follows:

  • You must be a native of a country in the EU, EEA and/or Switzerland.
  • You’re registered for a full-time study.
  • You’re under 30 years old.
  • You’ve been living in the Netherlands legally for at least 3 years.

If you meet all of the above requirements, you can apply for a student grant via the DUO. You also get free travel within the Netherlands and if you graduate within 5 years, the cost of your free transportation will be presented as a gift and you wouldn’t need to pay that back. On the other hand, if you don’t graduate within 5 years, you’ll be asked to pay it all back. Depending on your situation, DUO will give you a certain amount of time to pay your student loans back. The repayment phase is up to 15 years, or 35 years if the new student finance system applies to you. For most studies, you can receive a maximum of 7 years of student finance.

10. Amsterdam is one of the best student cities in the world:

Amsterdam is one of the Netherlands most popular student cities. The open-minded and multicultural city is home to more than 100,000 students from different parts of the globe. Amsterdam is known for the many pleasant student associations and there is always one for you. The characteristic, vibrant character of Amsterdam can be found in the many trendy, fun and affordable restaurants and the cosiest food & lifestyle spots. Of all the beautiful cities in the Netherlands, Haarlem and Amsterdam remain my favourites, and as a student studying in Amsterdam myself, I’d recommend this inspiring and welcoming city to anyone planning to study in the Netherlands. Studying in Amsterdam for some international students can bring its fair share of culture shock, but the city is a diverse one and no matter where you come from, you’ll always feel at home in Amsterdam. The city has some really cool restaurants with good food, clubs, libraries, friendly people and of course, prestigious schools to make your study experience one you wouldn’t forget quickly.

So if you’re still looking for a country to study, here are 10 reasons why the Netherlands is your best bet. And for those who are starting this September, I wish you all the best and hope you enjoy the Netherlands.

If images of cozy cafes or shimmering canals have caught your imagination, maybe you should consider taking your dreams of visiting the Kingdom of the Low Countries and turn them into a reality by studying abroad in the Netherlands.

There’s more to the Netherlands than meets the eye, which is why we were excited to show off the top ten reasons for international students to choose the Netherlands as their number one study abroad destination.

1. Prestigious Universities

Looking for a study abroad destination that offers you the chance to study at one of the world’s best universities? Look no further than the Netherlands!

The Dutch boast one of the oldest and most reputable higher education systems in the world. With many universities in the Netherlands placing highly in the global rankings, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular study abroad destinations in Europe.

To top that, Dutch universities offer friendly tuition fees, a diverse range of English-language programs, and a great student life.

2. An Open-Minded Society

The Dutch carry on their daily lives with a “live and let live” attitude that can be seen in the diversity of their surroundings. Tolerance has become an integral building block in Dutch society.

In effect, multinational restaurants, gay bars, brothels, and coffee shops live in peaceful coexistence in the same neighborhoods in cities across the Netherlands. As an international student, this may seem strange at first, but you will quickly see that instead of producing crime, the Dutch’s liberal legalization policies have created a safe space for people to live out their lives.

Studying abroad in the Netherlands will, therefore, grant international students the opportunity to open their own minds to the lifestyle choices of people around the world.

3. Competitive Economy

After making it to graduation, most students have one major goal in mind—finding a job. It’s important, especially if you are living and studying abroad, to think about your employment opportunities after finishing your studies.

After experiencing life in the Netherlands, many students can’t help but want to stay for forever, so they make it their mission to find employment after their studies. Luckily, with one of Europe’s most competitive economies, finding a job is not only possible, it’s likely!

Once primarily an agricultural nation, the Netherlands is now a modern-day tech and startup hub. The Dutch government also promotes innovation and new talent by offering visas to foreigners with marketable skills, making the Dutch workforce one of the most diverse.

4. Language-Savvy People

Did you know, Dutch is the closest language to English? As English’s closest relative on the Germanic language tree, Dutch is much easier to learn for an English speaker than say Italian or French. Both languages borrow vocabulary from the other and the grammar is similar in many ways.

But, if learning a language is not your goal, no worries. The Dutch speak English at one of the highest non-native proficiencies in the world. You will also find a multitude of options when it comes to studying a program in English.

That being said, as savvy language learners, many Dutch people also speak a third or fourth language! Because of the Netherlands’ close proximity to Belgium, France, and Germany, many Dutch people also learn French or German. So, don’t be shy, and test out your language skills!  

5. A Cycling Culture to Live For

Another amazing benefit of studying abroad in the Netherlands is your cheap, easy access to transportation. Just bike there!

With an extensive network of bike lanes and plenty of places to store and lock your bike, the Dutch infrastructure makes it easier to bike to your destination than to drive or take public transportation. It’s also another way for the Dutch to embrace sustainability and protect the environment.

On top of it all, because of the respect bikers get on the road, there are very few serious biking accidents, making it one of the safest ways to travel as well. So, get on your bike and go!

6. Healthy and Active Lifestyle

The Dutch rank among the healthiest in the world.

Certainly, this is due in small part to the extensive cycling culture throughout the country. However, the Dutch also value sports and other forms of physical activity. As an international student in the Netherlands, you will have ample opportunities to join other students in groups or teams to play sports or just exercise.

The physical activity and social aspect combined make for a great mental space to take on the challenges of studying and living abroad.

7. Food to Die For

It’s surprising then that the Dutch diet is filled with saturated fats. Cheese, butter, and meats are plentiful on any Dutch table.

A step inside any Dutch pastry shop is also likely to have you drooling. Stroopwafels, pancakes, apples tarts, and licorice make up some of the Dutch’s favorite snacks. No study abroad in the Netherlands is complete without having at least tried poffertjes, tiny powdered pancakes, or oliebollen, the Dutch version of the doughnut.

If pastries aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other delicious treats to try! Bitterballen are ranked amongst the most popular bar or party snack. These little meatballs are coated in breadcrumbs and fried to crispy, golden deliciousness.

8. A Golden Age to Pine Over

If the names of Rembrandt and Vermeer ring a bill for you, then you must know about the Dutch Golden Age. Paintings such as The Girl with a Pearl Earring conjure up images in the minds of millions around the globe due to their popularity and historic significance within the art world.

But it’s not just the paintings of Vermeer that are easily recognized. Perhaps you have also heard of Vincent van Gogh, painter of one of the world’s most famous paintings, Starry Night. While studying abroad at the University of Amsterdam, you will have more than ample time to discover all that Dutch art has to offer. Start with the awe-inspiring Van Gogh Museum to brush up on your knowledge about the post-impressionists.

9. Travel Destinations to Discover

Within the Netherlands, international students can find some of the most beautiful, unique cities in the world. Stroll along the canals of Amsterdam, visit the ports in Rotterdam, or gaze at the beautiful architecture of The Hague.

No matter where you choose to study, the Netherlands is perfectly situated for you to explore all that Europe has to offer! It’s easy to find cheap fares and take a weekend getaway to Italy, Poland, or even England. Many Dutch cities are also connected via train to bustling European cities such as Brussels or Cologne. So, you can make the most of your study abroad experience in the Netherlands by not only seeing what the Dutch have to offer but also seeing all there is to see in Europe.

10. Be Yourself

Not only are they tolerant, the Dutch are also accepting. You can feel free to be who you want to be. You’ll realize with the freedom to do so, you will also want to reach higher to discover your full potential. The Dutch are honest and open communicators. At first, many international students to the Netherlands perceive this as too forward. But, soon the direct communication style reveals its benefits.

You will always know where you stand with a Dutch person, and as long as you are also open and direct, you will soon find you have a whole new group of life-long friends. Many students who study abroad cite making friends and connections as one of the most rewarding aspects of their study abroad experience.












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