Studying in the Netherlands
The Netherlands was the first country (where English isn’t the native language) to offer degree courses taught in English to international students. With over 50 universities to choose from, and an international student population of about 90,000, it's a great place to study and meet people from around the world. The Dutch teaching method, which is both interactive and team work based, is founded on respect for each other’s opinions and convictions. So be prepared to develop an open mind if you choose the Netherlands as your study destination.
Quality of life
Residents of the Netherlands are happy with their quality of life, based on the UN World Happiness Report 2019. Living costs are affordable and typically cheaper than other western European countries and part time work is readily available for students.
English speaking country
95% of the population speaks English so students will find a welcoming environment where knowing only a little Dutch isn’t an issue. Although some Dutch may be required to undertake an internship or part time job.
Where is the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is a country in Western Europe with a population of over 17 million. Known as the Gateway to Europe, it’s easy to travel for a weekend to other European countries. The Netherlands is famous for tulips, windmills, canals and its vibrant nightlife. And if cultural pursuits interest you there are plenty of museums and art galleries to explore. Most Dutch people use a bicycle and cycle lanes exist on most roads so cycling is a good way to get around town.
Higher Education in the Netherlands
There are two main types of institutions in the Netherlands:
- research universities (14) offering research-based Bachelors, Masters and PhDs.
- Universities of Applied Science (39) offering more vocational courses in the arts and sciences. These courses also offer more opportunities for internships and work experience placements.
Thirteen Dutch Higher Education Institutions appear in the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020 - led by The University of Amsterdam (59th), Delft university of Technology (63rd) and Wageningen University & Research (64th). Most courses start in September and undergraduate degrees typically take 3 years full time and are available in a wide range of subjects. Masters degrees can be Academic (1 year), Research or Teacher Training (2 years).
Choosing a course
To search for English-taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses go to Find your study programme (studyinholland.nl) or to the database of Bachelors and Masters courses taught in English (studyinHolland.co.uk).
Entry to courses in the Netherlands is decided by each institution so do check the specific entry requirements for any course that interests you in the course details on the university website. Typically you will need an appropriate school leaving certificate for entry to a Bachelor's degree. For British students this will be 3 A levels for entry to research universities and 2 A levels for entry to universities of applied sciences. For entry to Masters courses a Bachelor’s degree is usually required plus proof of language proficiency. If English isn’t your first language and you are applying for courses taught in English, you can prove your proficiency by taking an internationally approved English test such as IELTS or TOEFL.
How to apply
Most courses start in September and you can start the application process in the previous October. Courses with a fixed number of places (Numerous Fixus programmes) have an application deadline typically in January but it’s wise to check this with your chosen university. Other courses will have an April deadline for non-EU nationals or a May deadline for EU nationals. Apply through the central applications portal Studielink for up to four courses at a time; only two of the courses you choose can be Numerus Fixus programmes. However you can change your choices at any time before the enrolment deadline, which gives applicants flexibility during the application process. Further info about the application process can be found at studyinholland.co.uk.
Tuition fees are at the same fixed rate for EU/EEA students as Dutch students (€2,168 per year for 2021-22). Tuition fees are higher for students from all other countries, ranging from €7,500 to 15,000 per year for an undergraduate course and from €8,000 to 20,000 for a Masters course. EU citizens are eligible for a tuition fee loan from the Dutch government called Collegegeldkrediet. For further information about applying for this loan go to the Dutch student finance website. Scholarships are limited; the Holland Scholarship is available to international students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who want to study for a Bachelors or Masters degree in the Netherlands. It amounts to €5,000 in the first year of study only.
Residence permits and visas
EU/EEA citizens do not require a visa to study in the Netherlands. However, students from all other countries will need an entry visa (MVV) and a residence permit (VVR) to cover their stay. You can apply for these through your chosen university and collect the documentation from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country.
Anyone staying for more than 4 months will need to register as a resident with their city council, after arrival in the Netherlands, in the Personal Records Database (BRP) to get their Citizen Service number (Burgerservicenummer or BSN). A BSN is required to open a bank account, take out health insurance or get a job or internship in the Netherlands.
EU nationals do not need a visa or work permit to work in the Netherlands. Other nationals may need a visa or work permit to study or work in the Netherlands. You can check your personal situation at studyinholland.nl.
‘Veel succes’ with your application!