Studying in the Netherlands

Studying in the Netherlands


Our information and advice on job hunting, further study and visas remains current following the UK’s formal triggering of Article 50, and will be updated in the light of developments from the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union.

You can choose between two types of education in the Dutch higher education system:

  • Research oriented – offered by 17 universities and the Open University (wetenschappelijk onderwijs or WO – meaning ‘scientific education’). Combining teaching with academic research in a range of degree programmes and short courses.
  • Higher professional education – offered by 40 universities of applied sciences (hoger beroepsonderwijs or HBO – meaning ‘higher professional education’). This type of education is geared towards the acquisition of vocational qualifications and training.

There are also institutes of international education, which offer higher education programmes designed specifically for international students.

Postgraduate degrees are awarded by universities, universities of professional education, institutions of international education and private institutions.

What courses can you study?

There are currently more than 2,100 international study programs and courses taught entirely in English. This ranges from seminars to full masters degrees. More information on programmes and courses can be found on Studyfinder.

Useful information can be found on VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands) and Vereniging Hogescholen (the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences).

World university rankings, as well as information on universities in the Netherlands, may be found on Top Universities.

How do you apply for postgraduate study?

For entry into a masters programme or other postgraduate study, a foreign student must have a first degree or equivalent.

All state-funded institutions now also have an online application system at Studielink. The application process usually includes an institutional application form and personal statement which is similar to the UK process. For private degree programmes, apply directly with the institution.

Fees and scholarships

While higher education is not free in the Netherlands, costs are fairly reasonable compared with many countries. For EU citizens, fees start at around €1,950 per year. For non-EU citizens, the costs are usually considerably higher.

In some cases, foreign students are eligible for student grants, based on their nationality or residence permit. Try Grantfinder and Find a scholarship for help in securing funding for your study in the Netherlands. Also consult DUO (Diesnst Uitvoering Onderwijs), the Dutch Education Executive Agency, for more information on studying in the Netherlands and grants.

Another possibility is Erasmus+ Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees (JMDs), where students can go abroad for 3–12 months and may receive an Erasmus+ EU grant for studying or being trained overseas.

Study in Holland has lots of information about studying in the Netherlands, including details about costs.

Are there any exchange programmes?

UK students on both under and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in the Netherlands through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas.

Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?

Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from the Netherlands is directly comparable to the UK equivalent.

Do you need a visa to study in the Netherlands?

In order to study in the Netherlands, you'll need a permit. The Dutch government has established a Code of Conduct for institutions taking on international students. The Code of Conduct website helps you to find universities and institutions for higher education which subscribe to this code of conduct and can therefore make your stay and study in the country easier. If an institution is not on this list, the Dutch Immigration Services will not provide a residence permit for their foreign students.

AGCAS editors, September 2017