Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Study in Netherlands

The Netherlands, also informally known as Holland, is part of mainland Europe. The country is home to around 17.6 million people, and has a large international population. A founding member of many international and intergovernmental organisations, the Netherlands is an important and influential country.

Why Study in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands was one of the first non-native English speaking countries to offer courses taught in English to international students. You will have the option to study in either English or Dutch, depending on your language proficiency. The people of the Netherlands have a long standing reputation for being very tolerant and open minded, meaning that you will find yourself in a welcoming and diverse environment.

There are two types of higher education institutions in the Netherlands: universities of applied sciences (hogescholen; HBO), and research universities (universiteiten; WO). A university of applied sciences normally offers courses to prepare students for a specific vocation, whereas a research university offers more general courses. Both universities award globally recognised degree classifications.

Universities in the Netherlands are well ranked on the global stage. You will find 13 Dutch universities (not including universities of applied sciences) in the 2022 QS World University rankings top 500, with the University of Amsterdam being the highest ranked in 55th place. The next highest ranked is Delft University of Technology, which is in 57th place.

Common Student Questions

Q. Can I study in the Netherlands for free?

A. Public higher education is government subsidised in the Netherlands, meaning that international students from the EU/EEA pay a fixed fee each year. This fee is normally updated every year, in line with inflation and the general cost of living. If you are from a country outside of the EU/EEA, your tuition fee is not fixed, and universities can charge you more. If you study at a private university, your tuition fees can be higher, regardless of where you are from. For more information about fees to study in the Netherlands, see our Costs of Studying and Living in the Netherlands section.

Q. Can I study in the Netherlands as an international student?

A. The Netherlands has a large international population, and this translates into its student population. As a founding member of many international organisations, the Netherlands is very welcoming to all international students. As an international student, you will likely need to obtain a visa in order to study in the Netherlands. For more information about this, take a look at our Netherlands Student Visas section.

Q. Can I study in the Netherlands with English?

A. The Netherlands is a country that is very diverse in terms of the languages spoken and understood. Many Dutch universities offer their courses in English as well as Dutch. If your first language is not English, you will need to provide evidence of your language proficiency. Most Dutch universities accept an IELTS or TOEFL certificate.

About the Netherlands

Sitting in a region of Europe called the Low Countries, the Netherlands is a well developed and diverse country. The country’s location, as well as the sights and locations, make it a very popular destination for both international students and tourists alike. On top of its mainland provinces, the Netherlands also has three special municipalities in the Caribbean: the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The Netherlands is one of the few remaining countries to have a reigning monarchy, with the current monarch being King Willem-Alexander.

There is a lot to see and do in the Netherlands, and it has great transport links with its surrounding countries, meaning you will have freedom to travel and sightsee within mainland Europe with relative ease.

Cost of Studying & Living in the Netherlands

The Netherlands uses the Euro (€) as its currency.

Tuition fees for EU/EEA students are subsidised by the Dutch government, meaning that they pay a fixed fee of €2,168 per year (as of the 2021/22 academic year), which is the same as domestic Dutch students. If you are from a country outside of the EU/EEA area, then you should expect to pay between €6,000 and €15,000 per year for an undergraduate course, and between €8,000 and €20,000 per year for a postgraduate course. If you choose to go to a private higher education institution, you can expect to pay a higher tuition fee whether you are an EU/EEA or international student.

Your living costs will depend on where you live in the Netherlands. The bigger cities will be more expensive than the smaller cities and towns. On average, you should budget between €500 and €1,500 per month for accommodation, travel, food and other living expenses. Many bars, restaurants and tourist attractions offer student discounts when you show your institution student card. You could also register for an International Student Identity Card (which is valid worldwide) or a CJP discount card (only valid in the Netherlands).

If you are from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you are able to work alongside your studies with no restrictions and without gaining a work permit. If you are from a non-EU/EEA country, your employer must provide you with a work permit. With this work permit, you are able to work for up to 16 hours per week during the academic year, and full-time during the months of June, July and August.

If you do choose to take on some part-time work, you will also need to have public health insurance. For more information about health insurance and where to find a provider, please visit the Study in Holland Insurance webpage.

Funding to study in the Netherlands

If you are an international student looking to study in the Netherlands, there are several different funding options available to you. The Netherlands has tuition loan schemes for EU students and those who have a nationality or residence permit that allows them the same rights as Dutch nationals.

If you are not eligible for a tuition loan, you may be able to apply for a scholarship or grant. These can be offered by your institution, your home government, or the Dutch government. For more information about your eligibility for a scholarship, as well as how to apply and any other relevant details, please contact your institution of choice.

Find out more about funding your studies in our Funding and Scholarships for International Students advice article.

How to Apply

The Netherlands does have a centralised application system called Studielink, however, not all institutions or courses use it. In order to find out whether you need to apply directly to your institution or through Studielink, you should get in touch with your institution of choice.

In general, your application will likely have to include proof that you have sufficient funds, are covered by health insurance (if you are not an EU/EEA citizen), and can understand the tuition language to a high enough level. The institution you wish to study at will be able to provide you with any more information about this.

Want to study abroad but not sure on how to begin? Take a look at our advice article on Deciding to study abroad: The first steps.

Netherlands Student Visas

Depending on where you are from, you may need to obtain a visa in order to live and study in the Netherlands.

If you are from an EU country, you do not need a visa to study or work in the Netherlands. If you are from any other country, you may need a visa to study in the Netherlands. Your institution will be responsible for applying to start the process of obtaining your visa. Once your institution has received an ‘inwillging’ (a letter of approval from the Dutch immigration service) you will be able to apply for your entry visa (MVV) at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country. If you are from a non-EU country, you will also need to apply for a residence permit (VVR), which will be valid for the duration of your education plus 3 months.


The national language of the Netherlands is Dutch. There are also 3 other co-official languages, and 5 more recognised languages.

It is very common for degrees at Dutch institutions to be offered in both Dutch and English. If you choose to study in a non-native language, you will likely have to provide evidence of your language proficiency. The level of proficiency will be determined by your specific institution, so please contact them for more information. If you do not meet the language requirements, your institution of choice may offer language courses to help you improve.

Even if you are able to study in English, you should still take the opportunity to learn as much Dutch as possible. Communicating with locals and other students is a great way to practice. This is a skill that will make your life in the Netherlands easier, but will also look fantastic on your CV/resume!



The capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is home to around 872,000 people. It is a cultural hub of The Netherlands and offers numerous museums and points of interest as well as having a very active social scene and nightlife.

Located in the city you will find two universities, as well as several other higher education institutions, such as a university of applied sciences. These include the University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Tio University of Applied Sciences, and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

The Hague (Den Haag)

Located on the western coast of the Netherlands, The Hague is the third largest city in the country, and is home to more than 500,000 people. It is the seat of the Cabinet and the Supreme Court, so is seen as the political hub of the Netherlands. The Hague is also known as the home of international law and arbitration.

There are several higher education institutions in The Hague, both research universities and universities of applied sciences. These include The Hague University of Applied Sciences, International Business School The Hague, Hotelschool The Hague, and Leiden University – The Hague.


The second largest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is home to more than 600,000 people. It is an economic and logistical hub, and is Europe’s largest seaport. Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed in World War II, meaning that it now has a varied architectural identity due to it’s rebuild.

Located in the city of Rotterdam are several higher education institutions. These include the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, and Inholland University of Applied Sciences.

If Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and speed skating go together in your mind, and you like mobility and open-minded people, then perhaps you were made for studying in the Netherlands.

Extra treats are the internationalised community, hearing English spoken as frequently as Dutch, great museums, and a colourful nightlife. Sure, the rainy weather might be a bit of a downer, but you won’t mind it when you have great company.

What can we say? There are few other study destinations better than the Netherlands. But it’s never a bad idea to give you more specific details, so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Why study in the Netherlands?

1. Affordable tuition fees

Dutch public universities have very affordable tuition fees if you're an European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) national. You won't usually pay more that 2,100 EUR per academic year, with various study programmes often being cheaper than that.

The story is a bit different for non-EU/EEA students, who pay anywhere between 6,000 and 20,000 EUR per year. That's still much more affordable when compared with tuition fees of over 50,000 EUR per year in the USA.

2. No language barriers

Over 90% of Dutch citizens speak English. Whether you want to visit a famous tourist attraction on your own, ask for directions, or buy something from a shop, you won't have any headache regarding language barriers.

The popularity of the English language also makes it very easy to socialise and connect with people, to take part in social and cultural events, or simply make friends and go out.

3. Work flexibility after graduation

In this case, work flexibility means two things: one, you can work in any number of fields after graduation and enjoy great salaries and employee benefits; and two, the Netherlands is one of the leading countries where the 4-day work week is a common option in all sectors of the economy.

4. A heaven for cycling enthusiasts

According to governmental statistics, there are over 23 million bikes in the Netherlands, more than the number of actual citizens (around 17 millions). Cycle lanes are literally everywhere, and many students and employees use them to commute on a daily basis.

It represents a great way to reduce air pollution and increase personal health and wellbeing.

5. The Netherlands is safe and enjoyable

The Netherlands is one of the safest and happiest countries in the world. This is hardly surprising when we look at the high standard of living, the educated citizens, and society as a whole.

Which universities to attend in the Netherlands?

With over 10 universities featured in the top 500 international higher education rankings, Netherlands is an exciting country to study in. Dutch universities attract their students with a casual approach to education and top English-taught degrees.

If you don’t know where to start looking for a Dutch university, here's a few international universities we recommend: 

University of Twente
Radboud University
Tilburg Unversity
Utrecht University
University of Amsterdam

What is it like to study in the Netherlands?

Students in the Netherlands are encouraged to be very active. Professors are very approachable and avoid too much formalities. Also, the Netherlands has a big international students’ community which is very friendly and open to other newcomers. Dutch students are approachable and can be perfect party buddies.

On top of that, you can always use a bike to go to school, the distances are short, and there’s always some cultural activity going on.

What to study in the Netherlands?

Numerous English-taught programmes and native English-speaking teachers make studying in the Netherlands very appealing to international students. And there’s no other country that can beat the Netherlands at programmes related to Water Resource Management. By now, you already suspect that some of the most popular study options in this country are related to Engineering and Tech.

Here are some key subject areas you can study in the Netherlands:

Natural Sciences degrees in the Netherlands 
Computer Science degrees in the Netherlands 
Engineering degrees in the Netherlands 
Social Science degrees in the Netherlands 
Business degrees in the Netherlands

Where to study in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has ten major cities that attract both students and tourists, and are great urban hubs. Dutch cities are often lively, environmental-friendly, and maintain a cultural vibe.

Some of the best student cities that you can choose from are:

Study in Amsterdam
Study in Rotterdam
Study in Utrecht
Study in Eindhoven
Study in Nijmegen
Study in Tilburg
Study in Leiden
Study in Groningen
Study in The Hague

How to apply

The Dutch higher education system is based on the Bologna process. There is an official country website providing information about studying in the Netherlands, and you can visit the educational institutions' websites for more information. Enrolment applications should be submitted via

Generally, your starting point should be the website of the educational institution. Here you can find all the information about the content of the programme and also how to enrol. Usually, this will guide you to Studielink for the enrolment application. In Studielink, you should follow the next steps:

Create a Studielink account
Submit an enrolment application in Studielink

Choose your payment method in Studielink to pay the tuition fee
After you have submitted an enrolment application, your educational institution will contact you about the required documents which you need to upload before the deadline expires.
Each degree and university have their own application requirements, so pay attention and carefully check the list of documents. For questions about or help with your enrolment, you can contact the student services of your prospective university.

Usually, the documents required are:

A copy of passport or ID card
A passport photo
A personal statement in English
Copies of secondary school diplomas, certificates and/or grade lists in English, French, German or Dutch
Transcript of records
Proof of English/Dutch language proficiency

Some universities may require extra documents, such as:

CV or resume (including two referees)
Motivation letter
Sample of academic written work
Helpful ways to make sure you qualify for a Dutch university

Take Preparation Courses

These kinds of courses enable degree-seeking students to get an extra educational boost just before they start their Master’s degree or other post-graduate degree programmes.

Try a pre-MBA, pre-Law, or pre-Medicine programme, as well as any other foundation or preparation courses that will allow you to study in the degree programme of your choice.

Improve your English through an English-language prep course
If you’re attending a degree programme in the Netherlands, you will need to prove that your language skills are good enough to participate in the classes and understand the lectures; some schools will require Dutch, while others will require strong English skills. These courses will also prepare you for any of the English-language tests that universities require.

English-language tests

The language certificates you will need to provide, depending on the language in which you wish to study, are:

For Dutch: Dutch TUL or Dutch NT2-II diploma
For English:  TOEFL, IELTS, or C1 Advanced, PTE Academic

Sometimes, if you don’t hold a language certificate, you can take a language test at the university and find out if your level is good enough.

This option is only available at some universities, so always check with the institution!


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