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Study in the Netherlands

The Netherlands, also informally known as Holland, is part of mainland Europe. The country is home to around 17.6 million people, and has a large international population. A founding member of many international and intergovernmental organisations, the Netherlands is an important and influential country.

Why study in the Netherlands

The Netherlands was one of the first non-native English speaking countries to offer courses taught in English to international students. You will have the option to study in either English or Dutch, depending on your language proficiency. The people of the Netherlands have a long standing reputation for being very tolerant and open minded, meaning that you will find yourself in a welcoming and diverse environment.

There are two types of higher education institutions in the Netherlands: universities of applied sciences (hogescholen; HBO), and research universities (universiteiten; WO). A university of applied sciences normally offers courses to prepare students for a specific vocation, whereas a research university offers more general courses. Both universities award globally recognised degree classifications.

Universities in the Netherlands are well ranked on the global stage. You will find 13 Dutch universities (not including universities of applied sciences) in the 2023 QS World University rankings top 500, with the University of Amsterdam being the highest ranked in 58th place. The next highest ranked is Delft University of Technology, which is in =61st place.

About the Netherlands

Sitting in a region of Europe called the Low Countries, the Netherlands is a well developed and diverse country. The country’s location, as well as the sights and locations, make it a very popular destination for both international students and tourists alike. On top of its mainland provinces, the Netherlands also has three special municipalities in the Caribbean: the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The Netherlands is one of the few remaining countries to have a reigning monarchy, with the current monarch being King Willem-Alexander.

There is a lot to see and do in the Netherlands, and it has great transport links with its surrounding countries, meaning you will have freedom to travel and sightsee within mainland Europe with relative ease.

How to Apply

The Netherlands does have a centralised application system called Studielink, however, not all institutions or courses use it. In order to find out whether you need to apply directly to your institution or through Studielink, you should get in touch with your institution of choice.

In general, your application will likely have to include proof that you have sufficient funds, are covered by health insurance (if you are not an EU/EEA citizen), and can understand the tuition language to a high enough level. The institution you wish to study at will be able to provide you with any more information about this.

Want to study abroad but not sure on how to begin? Take a look at our advice article on Deciding to study abroad: The first steps.

Costs of studying and living in the Netherlands

The Netherlands uses the Euro (€) as its currency.

Tuition fees for EU/EEA students are subsidised by the Dutch government, meaning that they pay a fixed fee of €2,168 per year (as of the 2021/22 academic year), which is the same as domestic Dutch students. If you are from a country outside of the EU/EEA area, then you should expect to pay between €6,000 and €15,000 per year for an undergraduate course, and between €8,000 and €20,000 per year for a postgraduate course. If you choose to go to a private higher education institution, you can expect to pay a higher tuition fee whether you are an EU/EEA or international student.

Your living costs will depend on where you live in the Netherlands. The bigger cities will be more expensive than the smaller cities and towns. On average, you should budget between €500 and €1,500 per month for accommodation, travel, food and other living expenses. Many bars, restaurants and tourist attractions offer student discounts when you show your institution student card. You could also register for an International Student Identity Card (which is valid worldwide) or a CJP discount card (only valid in the Netherlands).

If you are from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you are able to work alongside your studies with no restrictions and without gaining a work permit. If you are from a non-EU/EEA country, your employer must provide you with a work permit. With this work permit, you are able to work for up to 16 hours per week during the academic year, and full-time during the months of June, July and August.

If you do choose to take on some part-time work, you will also need to have public health insurance. For more information about health insurance and where to find a provider, please visit the Study in Holland Insurance webpage.

Student visas

Depending on where you are from, you may need to obtain a visa in order to live and study in the Netherlands.

If you are from an EU country, you do not need a visa to study or work in the Netherlands. If you are from any other country, you may need a visa to study in the Netherlands. Your institution will be responsible for applying to start the process of obtaining your visa. Once your institution has received an ‘inwillging’ (a letter of approval from the Dutch immigration service) you will be able to apply for your entry visa (MVV) at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country. If you are from a non-EU country, you will also need to apply for a residence permit (VVR), which will be valid for the duration of your education plus 3 months.


The national language of the Netherlands is Dutch. There are also 3 other co-official languages, and 5 more recognised languages.

It is very common for degrees at Dutch institutions to be offered in both Dutch and English. If you choose to study in a non-native language, you will likely have to provide evidence of your language proficiency. The level of proficiency will be determined by your specific institution, so please contact them for more information. If you do not meet the language requirements, your institution of choice may offer language courses to help you improve.

Even if you are able to study in English, you should still take the opportunity to learn as much Dutch as possible. Communicating with locals and other students is a great way to practice. This is a skill that will make your life in the Netherlands easier, but will also look fantastic on your CV/resume!

Student cities in the Netherlands


The capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is home to around 872,000 people. 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 nightlife.

Located in the city you will find two universities, as well as several other higher education institutions, such as a university of applied sciences. These include the University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Tio University of Applied Sciences, and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Find out more about Universities in Amsterdam.

The Hague (Den Haag)

Located on the western coast of the Netherlands, The Hague is the third largest city in the country, and is home to more than 500,000 people. It is the seat of the Cabinet and the Supreme Court, so is seen as the political hub of the Netherlands. The Hague is also known as the home of international law and arbitration.

There are several higher education institutions in The Hague, both research universities and universities of applied sciences. These include The Hague University of Applied Sciences, International Business School The Hague, Hotelschool The Hague, and Leiden University – The Hague.


The second largest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is home to more than 600,000 people. It is an economic and logistical hub, and is Europe’s largest seaport. Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed in World War II, meaning that it now has a varied architectural identity due to it’s rebuild.

Located in the city of Rotterdam are several higher education institutions. These include the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, and Inholland University of Applied Sciences.

Common student questions

Can I study in the Netherlands for free?

Public higher education is government subsidised in the Netherlands, meaning that international students from the EU/EEA pay a fixed fee each year. This fee is normally updated every year, in line with inflation and the general cost of living. If you are from a country outside of the EU/EEA, your tuition fee is not fixed, and universities can charge you more. If you study at a private university, your tuition fees can be higher, regardless of where you are from. For more information about fees to study in the Netherlands, see our Costs of Studying and Living in the Netherlands section.

Can I study in the Netherlands as an international student?

The Netherlands has a large international population, and this translates into its student population. As a founding member of many international organisations, the Netherlands is very welcoming to all international students. As an international student, you will likely need to obtain a visa in order to study in the Netherlands. For more information about this, take a look at our Netherlands Student Visas section.

Can I study in the Netherlands with English?

The Netherlands is a country that is very diverse in terms of the languages spoken and understood. Many Dutch universities offer their courses in English as well as Dutch. If your first language is not English, you will need to provide evidence of your language proficiency. Most Dutch universities accept an IELTS or TOEFL certificate.

More information about studying in the Netherlands

Capital City Amsterdam
Currency EUR, Euro
Language(s) Dutch
Universities on StudyLink 36 universities
Major Student Cities Leiden, The Hague, Rotterdam

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