10th November 2014
Less than one hour’s flight from the UK, the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe and offers a rich lifestyle based on its cultural diversity and tolerant ethos. The land of bikes and windmills is an attractive place to live for those who can enjoy the social life of its cities, as well as the beauty of its countryside. Here is some essential information to know when advising your students about Higher Education in Holland.
Why should your students consider applying to Dutch universities?
In recent years the media has talked of the ‘exodus’ of British students heading to the Netherlands. The storyline depicts students running away from rising tuitions fees in the UK, to find cheaper English-taught education in the Netherlands. While it is true that Dutch tuition fees are significantly lower, and that students can choose from over 1,500 undergraduate and graduate courses taught entirely in English, there is more to consider than cheap costs and language compatibility.
Holland hosts one of the oldest and respected systems of Higher Education in the world. The last QS World University Rankings edition included six Dutch universities in the global top 100 (University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, Utrecht University, Delft University of Technology, University of Groningen and Erasmus University Rotterdam), and 13 in the world's top 400. In the age of globalization, and particularly the globalisation of the job market place, studying in a foreign country whose education system is well thought of by employers is certainly an option to consider.
What do your students need to know about going Dutch?
The Netherlands has four different strands of Higher Education, so students need to look carefully at the type of qualification they can expect from each. First, there are research universities, which are more suited for those looking for an academic career. There are also Universities of Applied Science, which are primarily career-focused and often include work placement and periods of studies abroad. Next there are University Colleges, which teach mainly liberal arts, and students can study a wide range of subjects without committing to a particular degree. Finally, there are private universities, which teach more niche subjects like business or hospitality, but also charge higher fees.
Students also need to be aware of some differences in the assessment of courses. The Dutch grading system scores student work on a 10 point system, with 6 being the minimum score for a pass grade. Likewise, Dutch studies are less exams-focused. Very often, 2/3 of modules are assessed by group work and class participation. This reflects the fact that Dutch universities are particularly keen on encouraging students to engage in debates.
Cheaper in the Netherlands: to which extent is this true?
In comparison with the commonplace £9,000 in tuition fees per year in the UK, tuition in Holland is generally cheaper. Fees for each course depend on the degree and institution. Some degrees can match the British fees: for instance, a Masters degree at a University of Applied Science can be up to €10,500 (£9,500) per year. But usually, EU students can expect to pay only €1,835 (£1,600) per year for either an undergraduate or a Masters degree.
While EU students are eligible for a €265 grant and a free pass for public transport, living costs are not necessarily cheaper in the Netherlands. Students can expect to spend between €750 and €1,200 a month for expenses such as accommodation, food and social activities. Students might want to get a job on the side, and are indeed allowed to work without a visa, but finding a job is not easy: generally, they will need Dutch insurance and a good level of Dutch.
How do students apply to Dutch universities?
The Netherlands has a central applications system, Studielink, which is similar to UCAS in the UK. Students can apply for up to 4 courses at a time. However, international students should get in touch with each university, as they might need to submit additional information along with their Studielink application. Some oversubscribed courses (mostly medicine, psychology or economics) are called ‘numerus fixus’, and students can only apply to one ‘numerus fixus’ at a time.
Anything else to know?
EU nationals are not required to apply for a visa when studying in Holland. However, they will need to purchase health insurance and they are advised to register with the Dutch immigration authorities and the local city council. This will make their other administrative tasks (proof of residence, TV licence, telephone, etc) easier.
For similar articles on advising students on applying to university abroad, check out: Australia, Canada, Ireland.
Credits: Dennis Jarvis, Flickr