Study in the Netherlands

  • Netherlands Facts
  • Population: 16.4 million
  • GDP: $772.2 billion
  • Number of universities: 41
  • Foreign Student Enrolment 2011/2012: 45,000
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Official Languages: Dutch

The Netherlands is part of mainland Europe, it sits in Western Europe with an extensive coastline to the North Sea and shares land borders with Germany and Belgium. The Netherlands is also known as Holland and was the first non-native English speaking country to offer courses taught in English to international students. Now almost all courses offered to international students are taught in English and Dutch, which is great if you’re planning on studying in the Netherlands.

Study in Netherlands is similar to other popular study abroad destinations in terms of duration:

  • Bachelors Degree (BA, BSc, BEng): 3-4 Years
  • Masters Degree (MA, MSc, MEng): 1-2 Years
  • PhD: 4 Years

The higher education system in the Netherlands is made up primarily of three different types of institution, each with a unique offering to an international student. These are Research Universities, Universities of Applied Science and Institutes for International Education.

Certain degrees levels are only available from each institution type.

  • Bachelors: Available at Research Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences
  • Masters: Available at all Institution types
  • PhDs: Available only at Research Universities

The Netherlands is an established and revered seat of higher education with 4 universities in the QS Top 100 Universities 2010/11, those institutions are University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, Utrecht University and Erasmus University Rotterdam. 
Use the course search above to find the right course for you.

Important information about choosing a Dutch Institution

Visas

As most courses and degrees run for more than one year most international students will require an entry visa called a Provisional Residence Permit or Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf (MVV) in Dutch. Your MVV will allow you entry into the country for a six month period and once in the country you will need to apply for a Residence Permit – your chosen University should do this on your behalf.

A Provisional Residence Permit (MVV) will only be granted if your application meets certain requirements, including but not limited to:

  • You must have a valid passport
  • You have sufficient financial means
  • All required fees have been paid
  • You have a letter from your host University stating you have or will be enrolling

To find out more about the Visa and Permits required for your nationality you can use Nuffic’s Visa Wizard.

English Language

A level of competence with the English language is required before you can study at degree level in Holland as with other destinations, this will need to be proven when applying for your course by showing the results of an accepted English Language test. You will require a score no lower than 6.0 IELTS or TOEFL 550 (Paper Based), 213 (Computer Based). Other language tests may be accepted so please check with your chosen institution.

For more English Language advice please see the Language Requirements and Advice page.

Why Study in the Netherlands?

Higher education in the Netherlands is subsidised by the government and helps to keep tuition costs below that of the main study abroad destinations - USA, Australia and the UK. The qualifications will boost you career prospects as well as show you as an ‘out-of-the-box’ thinker for choosing a less well-known destination.

The Dutch are a welcoming nation of open minded and tolerant people and you will find a very diverse culture in most cities and their Universities. There is a lot to do and see in the country, some of which is described in the “About the Netherlands” section to the right. The country offers excellent transport links to other European countries which gives you the option of travelling and sight-seeing in other popular destinations such as France and Germany at a low cost during your time there. For more information on Studying in the Netherlands visit the official Nuffic Site.

About the Netherlands

The capital of The Netherlands is Amsterdam where you will find over 20 education institutions of varying sizes. It is a cultural hub of The Netherlands and offers numerous museums and points of interest as well as having a very active social scene and night life. Other major cities such as Rotterdam, The Hague (Den Haag), Utrecht and Eindhoven all have education institutions and their location is shown on the map below. Over 16 million people live in the country where the main language is Dutch but most speak excellent English. The Netherlands has a typical maritime climate with mild winters and cool summer. Expect changeable weather conditions throughout the year with few extremes. Tourist Highlights in the Netherlands include:

For more tourist information on The Netherlands you can visit the official Holland tourism site or the popular Lonely Planet guide.

Cost of Studying & Living

The currency in the Netherlands is the Euro (€). The expected cost of living is approximately €800-1,100 a month for a student lifestyle.
Discounts for students are available on many leisure activities and transport costs can be reduced by buying a discount card for rail travel. You are advised to split your funds into three equal amounts:

  • 1/3 on housing
  • v1/3 on food and sustenance
  • 1/3 on transport, leisure and study materials.

Scholarships and Grants are available for a variety of courses and student nationalities, Nuffic maintain a database of these that you can search.

Dependent on your nationality, working while studying for a limited number of hours is allowed. Your employer will have to apply for a work permit on your behalf and you should not assume there will be a job available as part of your budgeting.

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Map of the Netherlands