Spotlight on Studying in the Netherlands

Country guide

The Netherlands continues to grow in popularity amongst international students. It offers an increasingly wide range of programmes taught fully in English across all faculties, a very high standard of education, and a safe and vibrant student life with excellent travel links to the rest of Europe.

Higher education in the Netherlands is a binary system so students can opt to go to a research oriented (usually 3 years) or a profession-oriented institution (usually 4 years). In recent years, many of the large research universities have also created university colleges that follow a US-style liberal arts and sciences curriculum. Many courses offer the chance to study abroad or complete an internship. The Dutch teaching style is often very interactive and student-centered, focusing on teamwork and problem-based learning

10 Key Facts

  1. The Netherlands hosts more than 112,000 international students annually. Students can enrol on full-time undergraduate or postgraduate programmes, or they may come for a shorter study-abroad exchange. For those looking for a diverse, international study environment, the Netherlands could be an excellent fit.
  2. One of the strengths of the Netherlands, in comparison to its European neighbours, is the huge range of courses it offers that are taught entirely in English – over 2,000 at the time of writing. These courses can be found across all academic fields.
  3. 11 out of the 13 Dutch research universities rank in the top 200 universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education rankings (2020).
  4. Through the 41 Universities of Applied Science, students can take advantage of a wide range of practical and vocational courses in fields such as: fashion design, hospitality and hotel management, international business, game design, physiotherapy, and many more. Dutch universities also partner with businesses across many industries, providing students with lots of opportunities for work experience and internships before they graduate.
  5. The Netherlands has very strong science, economics, architecture and engineering programmes, as well as a thriving creative sector of designers, journalists, artists and film producers.
  6. Tuition rates – For many international families a key attraction of the Netherlands is the reasonable tuition rates compared to many other countries: non-EU/EEA tuition ranges from 6,000 to 13,000 euros per year.
  7. English is widely spoken. While it is always advisable for students to learn some of the local language, it is very possible to live easily in the Netherlands without learning Ditch.
  8. Entry requirements for the Netherlands often cause some confusion because they can be much lower than a university of equivalent standing in another country. This is because of the more egalitarian access policy. However, once admitted, students are expected to prove themselves and the academic pressure in the first year can be high, sometimes with 5-6 exam cycles. Students must earn high enough grades to be allowed to continue to their 2nd year.
  9. To apply to study in the Netherlands, students must first register with the central application system: Studielink. You can select up to 4 programmes. One advantage of the Dutch system is that you can remove choices and select new ones until a course deadline – so, if you are rejected by one course, you can pick another in its place.
  10. Some programmes in the Netherlands have limited places and additional selection procedures that may include testing and/or interviews. These programmes are called Numerus Fixus and their deadlines are earlier – usually January. University Colleges also have earlier deadlines. As with all countries, it is vital to check application deadlines and requirements carefully on specific university and course websites.
  11. One downside to getting started as a student in the Netherlands, is that accommodation can be difficult to find. Some universities offer a 1 year guarantee of accommodation to international students, but this does not always apply to EU citizens and is not the case at all universities. Students are strongly advised to start looking for somewhere to live as soon as possible.

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