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Netherlands Vs Germany for International Students

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With their multiple universities, high-quality public infrastructure, immigrant-friendly cities and centuries-old educational networks, both the Netherlands and Germany offer world-class degree programmes to international students every year.

Both countries border each other and are located centrally in Europe, allowing for easy access to major European cities as well as worldwide destinations. In fact, both Germany and the Netherlands are increasingly becoming student-favourite destinations and have greatly increased their international student populations in recent years.

The number of international students in the Netherlands has tripled to 120,000 between 2006 and today, and Germany remains the top European study destination with over 400,000 international students.

Although the Netherlands is a far smaller country than Germany, both countries are home to world-leading industries and large-scale economies featuring trade, manufacturing, financial services and other major sectors.

As for the world-class public infrastructure and public safety levels in both countries, Germany offers the largest number of cities featured in the Economist magazine’s Global Liveability Index 2022. The Netherlands, meanwhile, is home to as many as four cities featured in the European top 20.

Both countries are easy to travel and explore for international students and travellers due to their large numbers of English-speaking residents. Nearly 60 percent of Germans can understand English, and a whopping 90 percent of residents in the Netherlands are fluent in the language!

While both Germany and the Netherlands offer similar living and educational standards for international students, it is important for you to note that both countries are also different in multiple ways. If you are an international student keen to study in Europe, both the Netherlands and Germany might feature in your list.

Key Factors when Choosing between Germany & The Netherlands

We will explore four major factors which every international student must consider when selecting between the Netherlands and Germany for your next top-ranked degree programme.

Tuition and Living Expenses

When it comes to tuition expenses at top-ranked universities, international students are far likelier to prefer Germany over the Netherlands. This is because since 2014, Germany has abolished tuition fees for international students pursuing undergraduate degree programmes at its public universities.

This means that EU/EEA regions must pay only about 200 US Dollars per year as tuition fees in Germany, and even non-EU/EEA international students are only required to pay minimal semester fees of about 600-800 US Dollars per year. Of course, in case you are interested in studying at a private university in Germany, you should be prepared to pay up to 18,000-20,000 US Dollars per year.

In the Netherlands, on the other hand, EU/EEA region students usually pay up to 2,000 US Dollars per year as tuition fees while non-EU/EEA international students pay between 8,000-20,000 US Dollars per year. The excellent value for money offered by German universities is one of the major reasons for Germany being an international student favourite as a university destination.

Even though tuition expenses in the Netherlands are far more affordable than other university countries such as the United Kingdom and the USA, they still cannot compare to the world-class university education effectively being offered for free to international students in Germany.

Due to the Netherlands and Germany being similarly well-developed countries with vibrant cities and well-connected regions, you can expect to pay similar amounts in both countries for monthly living expenses. Most recent estimates suggest that you should budget between 800 to 1,200 US Dollars per month for living expenses in both countries, with major cities such as Berlin and Munich in Germany and Amsterdam in the Netherlands being slightly more expensive than rural regions.

University Rankings and Admissions

Due to Germany’s large size, it offers a clear advantage to international students over the Netherlands in terms of the number of universities. In fact, Germany has as many as 46 universities featured in the latest QS World University Rankings whereas the Netherlands is home to 13 featured universities.

German universities do receive far more applications from international students worldwide than Dutch universities, because of their free degree programmes and world famous position as a university destination. Most all universities in both countries are home to sizable international student communities which account for anything between 15 to 30 percent of a university’s overall enrollment.

Post-Graduation Employment

Both Germany and the Netherlands allow international students to work alongside your academic programme in the country. In Germany, international students are allowed to work part-time for up to 240 days in the year, whereas the Netherlands allows you to work up to 16 hours every week during the semester and full-time during academic breaks. In general, experts say that international students find it easier to locate and secure high-quality internships and part-time employment in Germany than in the Netherlands.

In terms of post-graduate employability, Germany again offers a clear advantage over the Netherlands. This is because while you can stay in the Netherlands for up to 12 months post-graduation in order to secure a job, Germany allows you to stay for up to 18 months after graduation. The extra six months you are granted to search for jobs as an international student in Germany can be a big advantage for you.

Language and Lifestyle

International students should conduct thorough research to identify courses taught in English at each Dutch or German university. You will probably find it easier to locate courses taught in English in the Netherlands than in Germany. For example, nearly 70 percent of master’s programmes in the Netherlands are taught in English, whereas the majority of courses at German universities are taught in German.

In terms of general lifestyles, international students will probably prefer the slightly more diverse urban environments in the Netherlands. Dutch cities are usually considered more lively and vibrant than German cities. Of course, you will find plenty of ways to socialise, entertain yourself and enjoy the beautiful cities and countryside in both countries as an international student.

It is difficult to go wrong with your decision when choosing between universities in the Netherlands and Germany. If financial aspects are important to you as an international student, then you might prefer Germany. But if ease of admission and English-taught courses matter more, then you should consider the Netherlands as your university destination. We recommend that you research the universities in both countries to select the best fit for you and your specific career goals.

All the best for your applications!

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