Studying in the Netherlands

Universities in the Netherlands

Students' Experiences of the Netherlands

Why study abroad in the Netherlands?

Given the hefty cost of car insurance in the UK, bicycles are the preferred mode of transport for many students. So it shouldn’t be too hard to make the transition to life in the Netherlands, where the biking culture is so strong almost half of all journeys are made by bike. An abundance of English-language degrees means that course options are almost unlimited.

  • Universities in the Netherlands are state-funded and are split into two categories: research universities and universities of applied sciences. There are 14 research universities and 41 universities of applied sciences in the country. The former offer more research-intensive education, while the latter are focused on preparing students for a particular professional field.
  • In addition to the state-subsidised institutions, there are also a number of private universities and university colleges.   
  • Dutch universities are popular among international students, with over 80,000 studying higher education in the country at present. More than 1,500 courses are taught entirely in English, ranging from short training seminars to Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes.
  • Six universities in the Netherlands are ranked in the Top 100 of the 2014–15 QS World University Rankings, with the University of Amsterdam highest at number 50. Leiden University is next at 75, followed by Utrecht University (80th), Delft University of Technology (86th) and both Erasmus University Rotterdam and University of Groningen at 90th.

Entry and visa regulations

UK residents do not need a visa to study in the Netherlands but must register with the local city council for the area in which they live.

  • There are two different methods for applying to Dutch universities. In some cases you apply directly to the institution you wish to study at, while in other cases you need to apply via a centralised application system called Studielink. You should contact the university you want to study at in the first case to find out which method they use.
  • Applications are usually opened a year in advance so you can apply in September or October for a place in September the following year (although applications may not close until May or June of the year in which you will begin study).
  • Some very popular courses such as medicine and law have a restricted number of places — Numerus Fixus — and a lottery-style system of selecting applicants is in operation. Deadlines for these courses are usually earlier than other programmes.

Funding your study

Annual tuition fees are about €1,700 for EU students on undergraduate courses, although fees are higher at private universities and university colleges.

  • Loans are available to cover the full cost of annual tuition and these are paid in 12 monthly instalments. You must begin repaying these two years after graduation regardless of your location or income.
  • If you can find a job working at least 32 hours per month and you are aged under 30, you are eligible for a Dutch government non-repayable grant of €266 per month. But it may be more of a struggle to find work if you don’t have at least basic Dutch language skills and the grant is not available until you’ve been in a job for at least three months. There are also some additional means-tested and top-up loans available to those in part-time employment.
  • There are a limited number of scholarship opportunities for foreign students, many of which are administered by Nuffic, a Dutch non-profit organisation that aims to foster international cooperation in higher education.

Living costs are comparable with those in the UK and student discounts are available in many places. Typical prices (GBP, March 2015) include:

  • Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £439 - £574 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £10.67
  • Meal at McDonalds: £4.98
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £2.85
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £2.13
  • Cappuccino: £1.74
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £1.48
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle): £1.32
  • Loaf of bread: £0.95
  • Cigarettes: £4.27
  • One-way ticket local transport: £1.85
  • Cinema ticket: £7.12

Students do not commonly live on campus in the Netherlands and finding a room can be time-consuming and expensive so start early and ask your university for details of any recommended agencies.

Health and safety

  • If you are going to the Netherlands solely for study purposes, you will be able to access medical treatment using your European Health Insurance Card. If you’re planning to work part-time or in an internship during your stay you will need to take out additional Dutch public healthcare insurance. Many universities have access to discounted rates so ask your institution for a recommendation.  
  • The Netherlands is generally considered to be a very safe country but there is a risk of petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft, particularly in major cities such as Amsterdam.

Helpful links

  • Get more information about studying in the Netherlands from Study in Holland, a Dutch government funded initiative that promotes the Dutch higher education sector.
  • Information about studying, part-time work, internships, and health insurance can be found on the Health Insurance Information Centre website.