Almost 86,000 international students from 170 different countries enrol in higher education in the Netherlands each year, and this number continues to grow. You may be familiar with the photos of canal-side holidays, classic windmills, and sticky stroopwafels - it's no wonder so many tourists visit. So why is the country so popular with students? We’ve put this guide together to give you a glimpse of why you'd want to study here.
World class teaching
Dutch teaching reflects the country’s open-minded culture. You’ll find that programmes put an emphasis on independent learning and good communication between students and lecturers. You can expect interactive classes, group work, and encouragement to share your views with fellow students. This is great preparation for when you want to explain ideas, solve problems, and give constructive criticism in future jobs or research roles.
You’ll be able to experience this teaching style at some of the best institutions, with 13 of the Netherlands’ universities featuring in the Shanghai Ranking’s top 700 universities in the world! Across all fields of study, around 60% of programmes are taught in Dutch, and the rest are taught in English or multiple languages. You can choose to make your programme very broad or very specialised too, depending on whether you take a ‘minor’ alongside your main subject. So there’s a wide range of flexible programmes to choose from once you’ve selected a place to study at.
Support with tuition
Whether you’re from inside or outside the EU, there’s help to manage your student finances. Annual tuition fees for students from the EU are 2,168 EUR per year. ‘Collegegeldkrediet’ - a loan from the Dutch government - is available to cover all or part of these fees for EU students. There are additional student grants of around 1500 EUR per year given out based on your family income too.
If you’re from outside the EU, tuition fees are higher and tend to range 6,000-15,000 EUR per year depending on your programme and university. You’ll not be eligible for the ‘collegegeldkrediet’, but you will be able to apply for a number of government and university scholarships. For instance, the Dutch government awards the Holland Scholarship of 5,000 EUR to international students in their first year of study.
It’s important to fully research and understand loans and grants before you sign up for them - use the link at the bottom of this guide to explore the options on the Dutch government website. In the meantime, take a look at our guide to ‘The cost of studying in the Netherlands’ to see how financial support might fit into your student budget.
Happy and open-minded society
Dutch society is diverse and inclusive, ranking as the 6th happiest nation in the World Happiness Report 2020. Dutch people are the best non-native English speakers in the world and are well-known for being open-minded and direct. This means you’ll be able to connect with local Dutch neighbours and navigate day-to-day life easily.
The country’s diversity is reflected in its food, entertainment, and festivals too. To give you a taste, you can find world street foods, clothes, and live music at the Yada Yada Market in Amsterdam. Or you can enjoy LGBT+ Pride celebrations that last throughout the summer, with marches, canal parades, and open air cinema events. And there’s even the annual Drongo language festival at Utrecht University that’s devoted to the impact and science of languages. No wonder everyone’s so happy!
Despite its small size, the Netherlands is a major hub of arts and industry, and was ranked the 5th most competitive economy in the world in 2017 by the Swiss IMD. As the host of countless companies from around the world, the Netherlands offers fantastic job opportunities. You’ll find everything from Tesla and Philips, to ING and Heineken.
A quarter of international students choose to stay in the Netherlands after graduating. EU graduates don’t require a work permit to stay, and non-EU students can make use of the country’s ‘orientation year’ visa. This visa allows graduates to stay as residents and work in the Netherlands for up to a year after they finish their programme. You’ll have time to look for a job or start a business!
Explore the art and history
With so many famous Dutch people - Anne Frank, Joanna Vandenberg, Van Gogh, and Van Leeuwenhoek to name a few - it’s no wonder the Netherlands now boasts the highest museum density in the world!
As a student in the country, you’ll be able to visit masterpieces at the Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House Museum, and the Foam Fotografiemuseum. For another view, you can always head to the top of the copper-clad roof of the Nemo Science Museum to enjoy the panorama terrace. Make sure to bring your student ID with you when you visit for discounted tickets!
If you’re saving money, you can always go for a walk around your local area to see the mix of Dutch Renaissance, Baroque, and modernist architecture. Cycle day trips can take you out to see the quinntessential Dutch windmills and tulips. Ideal for a break from studying!
Good stuff from elsewhere
Dutch government student finance webpage