Studying in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has two types of higher education institutions:
- Research universities – university education (wetenschappelijk onderwijs or WO) offered by 14 universities and the Open University, which combines teaching with academic research;
- Universities of applied sciences – professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs or HBO) geared towards the acquisition of vocational qualifications and training.
There are also institutions of international education, which offer postgraduate courses in English in a wide range of fields.
Postgraduate degrees are awarded by universities, universities of professional education, institutions of international education and private institutions.
What courses can you study?
Almost 900 postgraduate courses are on offer – most normally lasting one or two years.
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.
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 €1,770 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 the Grantfinder, an online search engine for those who want to study in the Netherlands and are looking for financial aid, under 'Scholarships' on Study in Holland. The Grantfinder contains information on a range of Dutch scholarships for foreign students. Also consult DUO (Diesnst Uitvoering Onderwijs) 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 also has information on the cost of living in the Netherlands.
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, October 2014