Why study in Netherlands
If you ask us, we think the Netherlands and international students are a perfect match! The Netherlands is the best country to study abroad because of its diverse population, the abundance of English-taught degrees, and top-notch higher education.
Below we list four more reasons why international students choose to study in the Netherlands:
- A truly international environment. Every year, the Netherlands welcomes international students from more than 160 nationalities. The country is also home to many highly skilled migrants. Additionally, more than 95 per cent of Dutch citizens can speak English, making the Netherlands even more attractive and internationally friendly.
- Student life and community. Universities in the Netherlands seek to foster student communities by organising events and activities. Whether you’re interested in a sport, enjoy exploring the nightlife or want to expand your academic knowledge, Dutch universities have many student hubs, associations and parties to suit different tastes and interests.
- Interactive and independent learning. The lecturers will provide the necessary materials but leave planning how and when to study up to you. In the Netherlands, students are responsible for being active in classrooms and, in turn, they get the freedom to share their ideas and opinions.
- Casual relationship with professors. Dutch value flat organisation structure over hierarchical. Because of that, everyone is encouraged to be critical and express their opinion. Without the unnecessary formalities, you can expect to maintain a casual and friendly relationship even with your teachers.
Overall, the Netherlands offers high-quality education and excellent value for your money. Dutch Higher Education is well-recognized, whilst the tuition fees and living expenses are relatively lower than in English-speaking countries. Because the Dutch society is internationally-minded and English-fluent, foreigners feel welcomed no matter where they land in the Netherlands.
Furthermore, Dutch universities honour high worldwide rankings and are recognised for their top-notch Business, Engineering, Law and Medical schools. The country is known for their Water Resource Management programmes as well as other engineering and technology-related disciplines. No matter your interests, whether you wish to pursue a more traditional discipline, such as Law, or learn more modern subjects like Cybersecurity, the Netherlands definitely has a suitable degree for you to enjoy.
Culture in Netherlands
People in the Netherlands don’t like to beat around the bush. They value honesty and choose to communicate directly about what they think and feel. While for some people, the direct nature of the Dutch may at first seem a little confrontational, it’s merely a shared characteristic that allows locals to maintain transparency and clarity in their communication. Thanks to this directness and openness to different opinions, Dutch people are approachable and easy to connect with.
Dutch society is culturally diverse and open, increasing the chances of falling in love with this country. The Netherlands is generally a welcoming country in which people with different religions, sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds coexist in harmony.
Languages spoken in the Netherlands.
The country’s national language is Dutch, but most Dutch citizens are bilingual. They are true language wizards, oftentimes also able to speak fluent English, French and German.
Dutch food culture.
Compared to other European countries, Dutch cuisine is definitely a humble one. You can expect different variations of sandwiches for lunch and a wide choice of deep-fried snacks paired with a variety of beer options. Nevertheless, the Netherlands never stops surprising, and before you know it you’re going to be enjoying fries in a Dutch way - by dipping them in mayonnaise.
Weather in the Netherlands.
Unpredictable is the best way to describe this country’s climate. Sometimes, in a span of an hour you can experience sun, rain, wind and clouds. Nevertheless, Dutch summers are relatively warm, generally reaching higher than 20 degrees Celsius, while winters are moderately cold, ranging between 1 to 6 degrees Celsius on average.
Dutch culture and lifestyle.
Dutch people enjoy a great work-life balance. They like to spend their free time being active and enjoy taking part in the many markets, parades, carnivals and festivals happening in the country throughout the year. Nothing better describes the activeness of the Dutch than the fact that there are more bicycles than people in the Netherlands. So if you plan to study here, prepare to tone your leg muscles while getting around by bicycle.
How to choose a university in Netherlands?
It can become overwhelming when deciding on where to study in the Netherlands. Worry not! We are here to make it easier for you. We have explained how to choose a university in the Netherlands in the following checklist:
1. Decide between the two different levels of higher education offered by the Netherlands:
- Research oriented education, in Dutch, known as wetenschappelijk onderwijs (WO), is offered by research universities. These institutions provide what is traditionally considered an academic university programme. They teach students academic and scientific skills and aim to prepare them for both the future employment and the undertaking of independent research.
- Higher professional education, known as hoger beroepsonderwijs (HBO), is offered by universities of applied sciences. Programmes at these universities prepare students for particular professions and are more practically-oriented.
2. Take into account the cost of living in different areas in the Netherlands:
- If you choose to live and study in the Randstad area, your living expenses will be the highest compared to other regions in the Netherlands. The Randstad area involves big cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, and almost half of the country’s population lives here. In this region, you can expect the highest accommodation and eating-out prices.
- If you’re on a tighter budget, studying in another region in the Netherlands is more affordable. Consider cities outside the Randstad area, such as Tilburg, Enschede, Wageningen, Eindhoven or Groningen, to save some money on accommodation.
3. Choose a university according to the discipline you wish to study.
In the Netherlands, universities are known for the different subjects they excel at. For instance, Tilburg University is recognised for its Law disciplines, while the University of Twente focuses on Technology, and Behavioural and Social Sciences. Furthermore, research how well a university performs in your field of interest by checking THE World University Rankings by subject.
What are the best universities in the Netherlands?
You may not know it yet, but the Netherlands is home to some of the best universities in the world. In fact, according to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2023, these five universities in the Netherlands feature among the top 80:
- Wageningen University & Research. Situated in the heart of the country, this university specialises in agricultural and environmental science.
- University of Amsterdam. It’s the third oldest university in the country, based in the capital city of Amsterdam. The university ranks especially high for arts, humanities and social sciences programmes.
- Utrecht University. This Netherland’s most prominent research university each year attracts thousands of international students with its wide range of English-taught programmes.
- Delft University of Technology. It’s the oldest and largest public technical university in the country. Founded by the royal academy for civil engineers, Delft University is known for its science and engineering programmes.
- University of Groningen. Located in the city of Groningen, this university offers 180 English-taught Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
>>> Click here for the full list of university rankings in the Netherlands.
What are the top student hubs in the Netherlands?
Because of many inhabitants in the Netherlands, even the smallest cities can feel lively and relatively crowded. However, as a student, it’s nice to live in a city where at least one university is located. This way, you know there’s a student community around you, organising activities and events to mingle and find fellow students at.
To give an idea of where all the students gather, we list top student hubs in the Netherlands:
- Randstad area - the region with the biggest cities attracting the most international students. Study in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden, Utrecht or The Hague to get the most out of your student life.
- North Brabant - another Dutch province where locals very humbly like to call themselves the friendliest Dutch in the country. Experience student life in Eindhoven and Tilburg, two major student hubs in the region.
- And let’s not forget Groningen and Nijmegen - home to a number of research and applied sciences universities. These cities are known for their youthful atmosphere, where student parties and other activities run all week long.
Tuition Fees in Netherlands
Here is all the main information about tuition fees in the Netherlands so you can easily sail through the bureaucracy and better understand the Dutch tuition fee structure.
Besides public universities, there’s also a limited number of private ones in the country, and these charge higher tuition fees. Unsurprisingly, for this reason, public universities in the Netherlands are the first choice for international students. To illustrate what we mean, here is a brief overview of the tuition fees:
- For a public university you can expect to pay approximately between 2,000 and 20,000 EUR per academic year. Typically, students coming from the EU/EEA pay lower tuition fees for public universities, but we will come back to this further in the guide.
- Meanwhile, for private universities, yearly tuition fees can go as high as 30,000 EUR.
Since private universities determine their own pricing, we will focus on explaining the differences between the two types of tuition fees for public universities: statutory and institutional. Generally, European and Dutch students pay lower tuition fees in the country compared to non-European students. But more on that in the following text.
Statutory tuition fees
These fees are determined by the government and adjusted to the inflation each year. For instance, for the academic year of 2022-2023, the statutory tuition fee is €2,209, and in 2023-2024 it is expected to increase to €2,314.
Students that qualify for the statutory tuition fee need to meet the following criteria:
- Be of Dutch nationality or a national of any other EU/EEA country, Switzerland or Suriname. Or you hold one of the listed Dutch residence permits.
- Enrol in a government-funded programme.
- At the start of the academic year, you do not hold a comparable degree from a government-funded Dutch university. For example, you haven’t already obtained a Master’s degree when starting a new Master’s programme.
Institutional tuition fees
If you don’t meet the criteria above, you will most likely need to pay the institutional tuition fees. Compared to the statutory tuition fees - the institutional ones tend to be much higher. Since every university can set its own institutional tuition fee, the prices vary between €6,000 and €20,000 per academic year depending on the institution, programme and degree level (for instance, Master’s degrees are typically more expensive than Bachelor’s).
Overall, the cheapest tuition fees for international students tend to be found in universities of Applied Sciences. Medicine, Dentistry, and Business degrees usually cost more than other university programmes. Also, universities listed higher in the global rankings tend to be more expensive.
Tuition fees deduction
The Netherlands has, what we call, a tuition fee lottery for statutory fee payers - you can get two degrees for the price of one and also pay a reduced first-year tuition fee.
According to the new regulation, when you pay a statutory tuition fee for your first enrolment in a Bachelor's or Master’s programme and decide to enrol into another degree at the same time, you will only pay the tuition fee for the first programme. This applies only to Dutch public universities, but you can choose to study within the same or two different universities.
Another great news is you might qualify for halved tuition fees for the first year of higher education if you meet the following conditions:
- You’re enrolling in a Dutch public higher education institution;
- You will do a Bachelor’s degree or associate degree programme;
- You meet the requirements for paying the statutory tuition fee.
People who wish to study a Master’s degree in Teaching can also receive a reduced tuition fee, but only if they have first entered higher education in 2018/2019 or later. For more information on the tuition fee deduction, check out the Government of the Netherlands page.
How you can pay your tuition fees in the Netherlands
Tuition fees can be paid either in one go, before the beginning of the academic year, or in five to ten instalments via a direct debit card. The latter option is only possible when the fee is paid with a bank account from the Netherlands or a country belonging to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). You might also need to pay additional Dutch university application fees of €75-€100, but, fortunately, only once.
>>> Use the ‘Tuition fee’ filter on the left menu of ourBachelor’s,Master’s orPhD search pages to find the programme best suited for your budget. You can also sort the list of available programmes by Lowest tuition fee by clicking the top right Sort button.
Can I study in Netherlands for free?
We hate to break it like this, but there is no free education in the Netherlands for international nor local students. However, Dutch citizens can apply for study loans and receive supplementary grants to ease their study budget. International students can also get a tuition fee loan, but the amount of it will depend on the type of tuition fee that they need to pay. Furthermore, only the citizens of EU/EEA can receive a supplementary grant if they meet additional requirements.
Scholarships are always a great way to ease the financial burden of studying abroad. In the Netherlands, there are many scholarship options for foreign students. Check our article about tuition fees and funding and continue grabbing insights from our guide.
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Netherlands
Luckily, the Netherlands doesn’t leave you hanging in financial havoc. Instead, it offers plenty of scholarships, grants, student loans, and even rent subsidies and support for your health insurance and living costs.
Types of scholarships on offer
There are several types of financial aid in the Netherlands. But, mostly, you will find:
- Scholarships for good academic performances, funded by universities or the Dutch government.
- Bursaries and grants given by the government based on students’ financial needs. For more specific information visit the Dutch government’s page on student finance.
- Student-specific scholarships for students coming from certain backgrounds.
- Loans offered by the Dutch government to cover study tuition fees.
Each scholarship or grant has different application criteria, so be sure to read the requirements thoroughly. There is no limit to how many scholarships you can apply for. Explore our article on how to apply for a scholarship to study abroad, get your laptop and start applying!
Where to find scholarships?
To start, you can search through over 1400 scholarships and grants to study in the Netherlands on our Scholarships Portal. Likewise, you can find hundreds of scholarships provided by NGOs, governmental or private institutions, and universities.
Examples of credible sources where you can apply for scholarships and find financial aids include:
International Distinction Award, open to all international students – see FAQ about the award here.
2. University websites.
Often, you can find scholarships offered by universities on their official websites. Some examples are:
- Leiden University Excellence Scholarship
- University of Twente Scholarship
- Utrecht Excellence Scholarships
- VU Amsterdam Fellowship Programme
- Justus & Louise van Effen Excellence Scholarships at TU Delft
3. Government-funded scholarships.
Some examples are:
- Holland Scholarship - for international non-EEA students
- Orange Knowledge Programme - open to mid-career professionals from specific countries
- Orange Tulip Scholarship Programme - for citizens of India or Indonesia
- More options can be found on the study in NL website.
Students coming from European Union countries, Erasmus+ offers to support their study in other EU countries, including the Netherlands.
5. Private organisations and NGOs
Such institutions sometimes offer scholarships to study abroad.
How to apply for scholarships in the Netherlands?
After you’ve made your choice on the scholarships, it’s time to start applying. The scholarship application process may seem foreign and intimidating, but we’re here to make it easier for you. Follow these steps and learn how to apply for a scholarship in the Netherlands:
1. Check the eligibility criteria - make sure you fit all the requirements for the scholarship. Bursary or grant application process may differ from the scholarship.
2. Gather all the necessary documents. Examples of what you may need:
- Motivation letter;
- Proof of low income;
- Proof of academic or other achievements;
- Acceptance letter from a university;
- Translation of documents that are written in a different language.
3. Complete the application - ensure you have filled in all the questions.
4. Submit the application and wait for an official response!
If you are still unsure, read through our article on how to apply for a scholarship to study abroad.
What to include in your application?
Depending on the scholarship or financial aid you are applying to, you might need to include additional documents. For example, you might be asked for:
- Samples of your academic writing;
- Recommendation letters, typically written by your former teachers, employers, professors, etc.;
- Financial, personal and academic information;
- A portfolio of your work;
- Honours, awards and other certifications.
Moreover, in almost all cases (except for applying for supplementary grants or tuition fee loans given by the government), you will be asked to explain why you are applying for the financial aid and how it can help you to achieve your goals. In other words, you will need to present a motivational letter for applying for a scholarship. Learn from our guide on how to write a scholarship essay. Use the guide to prepare a motivational letter for scholarship and knock the judging committee's socks off with it.
Apply to university in Netherlands
Applying to a Dutch university doesn't have to be intimidating! We, as former international students, want to make sure you have an easy and stress-free experience while getting prepared. In the following sections we answer all the typical questions about how to apply for universities in the Netherlands and the study visa process.
How to apply for Dutch universities online?
First and foremost, always check the official website of the university that you wish to apply to. On these pages, information about the application process is listed. Keep in mind that the requirements and application processes may differ per institution.
Furthermore, for the majority of the programmes, you will be required to first register on the Studielink tool (similar to the UCAS system in the UK) to proceed with your application. StudielinkStudielink is an official registration and enrolment portal where you can manage your applications to Dutch higher education institutions. The platform is fairly easy to navigate. But if you struggle to create an account and apply to programmes, you can find step-by-step instructions by Studielink.
Here are a few things you need to know before applying for universities via Studielink:
- You can apply to up to four courses per academic year.
- You can change the courses you want to apply to any time before the enrollment deadline.
- If you are rejected by one university, you can select and apply to another one.
More insights on how to apply to Dutch universities for international students can be found in our latest article.
Applying to programmes with a limited capacity
For some courses in the Netherlands, there is a limited number of available places. The programme capacity is determined by education institutions and is called Numerus Fixus (read more about it here).
There are three things to note when applying to Numerus Fixus programmes:
- For Medicine, Dentistry, Dental Hygiene and Physiotherapy programmes you can only submit one application per programme, per academic year.
- For the rest of the Numerus Fixus programmes, you can only apply to two courses at a time.
- The application deadline is earlier. If you’re applying via Studielink, the last day to apply is around the 15th of January.
When to apply to Dutch universities?
Stay on top of your application timeline and make sure you submit before the deadline. Check out the official website of the institution for exact submission dates, but generally speaking, aim to have applied by these deadlines for universities in The Netherlands:
- 15 January for Numerus Fixus programmes.
- 1 May for most courses at research universities.
- 1 April for non-EU students.
Note: different deadlines apply for courses that start in the middle of the academic year (for example, February).
What’s the structure of the Dutch academic year?
Generally, the Dutch academic year in universities begins in September and lasts until the end of June of the following year. Also, good to know that:
In some cases, the academic year may start a week earlier, at the end of August, and finish off with exams taking place until mid-July.
The academic year can be divided into:
- two semesters (the second semester starts in February), and one midterm per semester. The midterms happen in the middle of the semester and usually include one class-free week dedicated to exam preparation and another week for exams and assessments.
- or in four blocks/periods, each roughly 7 weeks long. Likewise with semesters, after each block/period follows a week of preparations and another week of exams.
Sometimes, the academic year starts in February. However, this mostly happens in some Master’s programmes.
You can find a detailed description of the academic year on the official website of the university in which you plan to study.
Documents needed to apply for university
While application requirements may vary per university, most of them require you to provide these documents:
- A passport or ID copy.
- A passport picture.
- Copies of obtained secondary school diplomas, certificates and/or grade lists. When in doubt, compare diplomas from different countries to Dutch diplomas to know what you need to provide.
- Transcript of records.
- Proof of English or Dutch language proficiency.
- Proof of payment of application fee. For most research and some applied sciences universities, you need to pay a non-refundable one-time fee of around €100. This fee will cover multiple programmes at the same university.
Note: if any of these documents are not in English, French, German or Dutch, they need to be accompanied by an official English translation.
Additionally, you may be asked to include the following documents in your application:
- Your CV or resume.
- One or more reference letters.
- Motivation letter. Learn from our article how to write a successful motivation letter.
- A portfolio of your academic or other work.
Once you submit your application, all that's left to do is wait for the response. If you are lucky enough to receive a conditional or an unconditional offer, then it just means more good news is in store. A conditional offer simply implies that you need to meet certain requirements to be fully accepted. An unconditional offer, on the other hand, confirms that you are officially in and ready to kick off your studies!
Are you a native English speaker? Lucky you! You likely won't need to take a language test if you're planning on taking a program at a Dutch higher education institution. However, if English is not your mother-tongue, never fear - there are several certificates that can prove your English proficiency and make sure you meet the necessary requirements:
>>> To learn more about the different tests you can take, read this comprehensive guide we’ve put together.
Since the requirements for the English test scores vary per university, visit the official website of your preferred study institution to learn how you can demonstrate proficiency in English.
Furthermore, Dutch language skills are only necessary for those that want to pursue their studies in Dutch. Then, passing the Dutch TUL intermediate exam or holding a Dutch NT2-II diploma is required.
Student housing in Netherlands
In most cases, students live off-campus when they study in the Netherlands. There are two common types of student accommodation off-campus:
- houses and apartments shared by several students
- private student housing apartments, and studios.
Some Dutch universities offer on-campus housing, but such accommodation is scarce. Before arriving in the Netherlands, contact your university to see whether they can arrange a room for you, or you need to do it by yourself. The open spots for on-campus housing are reserved months before the beginning of the academic year, so be fast and apply as soon as possible.
When to apply for student accommodation
In many Dutch cities, especially in the larger student hubs, there’s a shortage of student accommodation and finding a good place to live can take a lot of effort and time. Hence, the most crucial advice is to start looking for student housing as soon as possible and before you arrive in the Netherlands.
If you’re searching for off-campus student housing, there are several approaches to that:
- Look independently on online Facebook groups. For each big Dutch city, there’s a Facebook group where student accommodation options are listed. Usually, other students living in the accommodation are looking for new roommates.
- Use public and private housing providers to find a place. You can hire a private agent to search for accommodation for you, or you can sign-up on websites where landlords list their housing offers. In most cases, you need to pay for both of these options.
Here are some organisations where you can look for student housing:
- Kamernet - an online marketplace that connects prospective tenants with landlords. A paid membership is required to use the platform.
- Pararius - a website listing rental properties. You can contact the accommodation owners directly via email or phone.
- The Social Hub - a student hotel offering all-inclusive temporary and longer stay accommodation.
- ROOM - an online platform listing student accommodation options around the Netherlands. A paid registration to the portal is necessary.
- Funda - an online marketplace listing different types of accommodation.
When searching for a place to live in the Netherlands, be very cautious of the available offers. Many scams are happening in the Dutch housing market. Checking the reliability and quality of the accommodation providers is your own risk and responsibility. Make sure you take the following steps as a precaution when you’re searching for international student housing:
- Read your rent contract carefully.
- Pay for rent via bank transfers instead of cash. If you pay in cash, ask for receipts.
- Avoid paying big amounts of money before signing a contract.
- If you find the accommodation provider suspicious and vague, consider not renting from them.
- Before signing a contract, ask to view the housing online or offline.
Cost of living in Netherlands
Depending on where you’re coming from, living costs in the Netherlands for both international and Dutch students can be relatively high. The cost of living in the Netherlands is on average lower than in some other European countries like Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Ireland, and Denmark but higher than most other countries in Europe.
Typically, students in the Netherlands spend, on average, between 800 EUR and 1200 EUR per month. The differences in living costs mainly depend on the city you choose to live in. For instance, Amsterdam has the highest cost of living in the Netherlands. In this city, rent prices in the private market often start from 750 EUR per month. Meanwhile, in smaller Dutch cities the cheapest student accommodation in a shared apartment/house can be as low as 250 EUR per month. Furthermore, eating out will likely be more expensive in big cities in the Netherlands, and you may need to spend more on local transport to get around the city. Tâï¿¼ââï¿¼ââï¿¼âhe prices for other cost of living, such as groceries, are similar around the country.
To give you a better understanding, we made a rough breakdown of general living expenses in the Netherlands:
Accommodation will, generally, be cheaper in smaller cities than in bigger cities, but the average costs are:
- A room in a shared student house or flat: 250-500 EUR
- Private studio: 400-750 EUR
- Private apartment: 750-3000 EUR
Utilities are usually not included in the rent and can make up to an extra 75-175 EUR per month. Prices for the Internet are 30-50 EUR monthly.
Transportation costs depend on your lifestyle and travel distances:
- By using public transport you can expect to spend on average 35-70 EUR/month.
- Taking a bike, on the other hand, will save you a lot of money. You can rent a bike from Swapfiets for 19.90 EUR/month (+ get a student discount) or pay 50-200 EUR for a second-hand bike.
Entertainment expenses will depend on the activities and how often you plan to do them, but some examples are:
- Cinema: around 12 EUR per ticket.
- Gym membership: around 30 EUR per month.
- Museum pass that allows you to visit 450 museums in the Netherlands: 64.90 EUR for a year.
Cost of food in the Netherlands
Eating at home is a fiscally responsible choice for students living in the Netherlands. Not only that, but it's easy to whip up a delicious pasta pesto meal and get major points on price, effort and taste! If Italian-infused cuisine isn't your thing, here are the average costs of food in the Netherlands:
- Chicken fillets (1kg) - 8.20 EUR
- Eggs (12 pieces) - 2.30 EUR
- Milk (1l) - 1 EUR
- Potatoes (1kg) - 1 EUR
- Loaf of fresh bread - 1.80 EUR
Overall, students in the Netherlands spend approximately 180 EUR per month on groceries at local supermarkets. Meanwhile, eating out is more expensive. You can expect to pay around 15 EUR for dinner in an inexpensive restaurant. For more information on living expenses in the Netherlands explore our article.
Work and study in Netherlands
Living in the Netherlands can be expensive, but having a side job while studying is a great way to increase your budget. Working part-time is incredibly common, and you can find rewarding jobs in hospitality and other service sectors. Moreover, it's a great opportunity to learn new skills, meet other students and make the most out of your student life.
Are international students allowed to work in the Netherlands?
Based on your nationality, there are different requirements and allowed working hours for international students in the Netherlands:
- EU/EEA students are not limited to a specific number of working hours and do not need a work permit.
- Non-EU/EEA students can work up to a maximum of 16 hours per week. However, they can work full-time in June, July and August. A work permit for these students is required, but only the employer can apply for it before hiring the student. The work permit must be requested via UWV Werkbedrijf and can take around 5 weeks to finalise.
Additional information for non-EU/EEA students:
- For voluntary work in the Netherlands, a work permit is no longer required, and the so-called Volunteer Declaration (Vrijwilligersverklaring) is now enough.
- A work permit is also not necessary for relevant internships alongside your studies. However, you should sign a tri-party internship agreement between you, your academic institution and the internship provider.
Where can I find jobs?
You can look for a part-time student job by searching online on job listing websites such as Linkedin and Indeed. Also, try checking your university’s official website for any open positions on campus.
If you’re seeking a side job in the hospitality industry, why not take the initiative and stop by some of the places in your city where you'd love to work? Think of it as an adventure - make a list of catering spots around town, print off multiple copies of your resume, and go visit! Dutch people will likely respond positively to your friendly approach; so don't be afraid to ask if they have any open positions. Read our article on how to find a part-time job for more good tips.
Is Netherlands safe?
The Netherlands is generally considered a very safe country. However, just like in any other country, being mindful of certain safety measures is important:
- Remember the emergency number 112.
- Try not to walk around alone at night.
- Look after pick-pocketers.
- Beware of online scams in the housing market.
- Avoid areas that feel sketchy or unsafe.
Student insurance in Netherlands
According to Dutch law, all students are required to have health insurance. However, the type of health insurance you need will depend on your circumstances.
Here are the three most common situations:
- If you are in the Netherlands for study purposes only, you cannot take out Dutch health insurance. Instead, you need a student health insurance policy from your home country or you can take out private health insurance in the Netherlands. Students coming from the EU/EEA may can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which covers all the necessary medical costs.
- If you are not only studying but also have a job (both part-time or full-time) next to your studies, you need to take out Dutch health insurance. The cost of national insurance in the Netherlands is around 100 EUR/month, but you may be eligible for a healthcare allowance.
- If you are doing an internship you may be allowed to take out Dutch health insurance. In case your internship pays you at least as much as the minimum wage in the Netherlands, then you are required to have Dutch insurance.
And if the Dutch health insurance system remains a mystery for you, visit SVB (Sociale Verzekeringsbank) website or contact them for more information on health insurance requirements for international students.
>>> Learn more about insurance for students by visiting our Student Insurance Portal
Support services available for international students
Being a student in a foreign country comes with challenges. But whatever you may need help with, your university is the first place to contact and ask for support. Dutch universities offer many student support services, including disability support, counselling and
mental health, academic support, conflict and violence support and many more. Contact your university for help with any difficulties you may be facing during your education abroad.
Moreover, here are other examples of student support services and more:
- Dutch Student Union - offers free legal advice for students in the Netherlands.
- Zorgverzekeringslijn - provides independent advice on solving health insurance-related problems.
- Het Juridisch Loket - gives legal advice regarding rent, work, debts, national policies and many other subjects.
- Frisse Gedachtes - helps students with their mental well-being by providing an opportunity to chat anonymously with fellow Psychology students.
Being an international student in the Netherlands is a lot of fun because many other foreign students come to study here. Student life in the Netherlands is very rich. Students are encouraged to join different types of student associations in the country. There's a type of student association for everybody, from sports to religion, study to social. Although some of the organisations are run and joined mainly by Dutch students, others are open to internationals and can be a great way to make local friends.
Overall, each university programme in the Netherlands has a relevant faculty organisation, so be sure to check it out on your university’s website. Moreover, here are some international student organisations to look into:
- International Student Network (ESN) - a non-profit organisation administered by students, helping international students make the most out of their study abroad experience.
- AIESEC - global student organisation helping students plan their exchanges.
- AEGEE - international student network operating worldwide. You can find the organisation in most Dutch cities and join their weekly get-togethers and parties.
- Amnesty International Student Group - a student community fighting for human rights. You can find the Amnesty Student Group in each city in the Netherlands.
Things to do for students on a budget
When studying in the Netherlands, you’ll be surprised by how many different activities you can plan in this country. Below we suggest some cheap things to do in the Netherlands as a student.
Top 5 urban attractions for students in the Netherlands:
- Look around the beautiful canals in Amsterdam. It’s one of the most popularcities in the world, and for a good reason! The gorgeous Amsterdam architecture, historic buildings, and meandering canals make the city a sight to behold. Come explore all the beauty this Dutch capital has to offer - you won't believe how many spectacular sights await you!
- Get amazed by Rotterdam skylines. A city unlike any other in the Netherlands, Rotterdam can sometimes feel like a small European version of New York City. The astonishing skyline views from the Erasmus Bridge, yellow Cube houses and modern art museums make the city a dazzling jewel of the country.
- Visit the oldest city in the Netherlands - Nijmegen. Located in the heart of the country this city holds a rich cultural heritage. There are many Roman ruins and monuments that you won't want to miss. Plus, visit Nijmegen for two must-see events: the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse four-day walking festival and the Zomerfeesten summer party.
- Explore the political capital - The Hague. For those interested in politics, The Hague is the seat of government in the Netherlands, home to many embassies. It is one of the major cities hosting the United Nations. Another delightful The Hague activity is to take a tram from the city centre to Scheveningen beach and watch the sun dip below the horizon.
- Experience Eindhoven's amazing design and culture scene. Explore this fun, compact city on foot or by bike and discover the incredible industrial projects from all around the Netherlands. Join Eindhoven for awesome festivals like Glow Eindhoven (an international light festival) and Dutch Design Week (the largest design event in Northern Europe). Plus, don't miss Carnival - a celebration only found in the Southern and Eastern regions of the Netherlands.
Top 5 Outdoor Attractions in the Netherlands:
- Experience a blast from the past and visit Zaanse Schans for an amazing, time-travel adventure to the 17-18th century. Located just 15 kilometres north of Amsterdam, you can hop on a train and be at this delightful, traditional Dutch village filled with old windmills in no time. And the best part? Admission is free!
- Escape the exam-period stress with a trip to Hoge Veluwe National Park—the perfect spot between Arnhem and Apeldoorn! Enjoy the breathtaking nature and wide open fields, reigniting your passion for the outdoors!
- Village of Marken - your next getaway destination! This charming Dutch village on a small island features traditional painted wood houses and historic fishing boats that make for an unforgettable trip. Hop on a bus from Amsterdam or take a quick ferry ride from Volendam; either way, you'll want to explore the Netherlands in style when you visit Marken.
- Windmills of Kinderdijk is an incredible, picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site with windmills that date back to the 18th century. It's located between Rotterdam and Dordrecht right on the River Noord. And if you time it just right, you'll get to witness these majestic windmills in motion - what a sight!
- Discover the grand Kasteel De Haar, just outside of Utrecht. It's an incredible sight and the biggest castle in all of the Netherlands! Enjoy a stroll around its beautiful gardens before venturing inside and exploring its impressive collection of artworks, fabrics, antiques and furniture.
Travelling in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a great place for public transport - you can get to practically any city with a train in just a couple of hours or less! If you're studying in the Netherlands, then you'll love how easy it is to get around - a bicycle and the rails are all it takes!
To make the most out of train rides, you can choose to get several discounts for the Dutch train system NS:
- If you travel with a group of 2 to 7 people, you can get a train ticket from 7,50 EUR.
- You can also buy a monthly 40% discount for weekdays, weekends or both.
- Or get a day train ticket and travel around the Netherlands only from 48 EUR.
Visit the NS official website and find more ways to travel on a budget with trains in the Netherlands.
Learning the Dutch language can be a fun activity that can enrich your experience of studying in the Netherlands. There are plenty of great private companies offering Dutch lessons for non-native speakers in the country. But we want to give you even more tips on how to learn Dutch:
- Ask to practise with a local. Dutch people get very excited when they see foreigners trying to learn Dutch, and they would be more than happy to help you practise their native language.
- If you’re registered in Amsterdam, the municipality of Amsterdam offers free Dutch language courses to all foreigners. Find more information about it here.
- Most Dutch universities offer Dutch classes to international students as an extracurricular activity or for extra credits. Contact your faculty to learn more about your options.
- Read, listen and speak in Dutch as much as you can. There is no better way to learn a language than by immersing yourself in it.
Living as an expat in Netherlands
After you graduate from a Dutch university, there are a few paths you can take: continue your education and get a Master’s or a PhD degree, or start working in the Netherlands. If you decide it’s time to enter the labour market, you may need a new type of visa or residence permit to continue staying in the country.
Living in the Netherlands as an expat is very common: there are many expat communities within the country as well as international and local companies open to hiring foreigners. If you want to stay and work in the Netherlands, you need to make sure you have Dutch health insurance and the right visa to continue your stay. Further in this guide, we’ll walk you through work visas in the Netherlands and share other tips for expats.
Before moving forward, check out former international students’ stories about their experiences of living in the Netherlands after graduation.
Expat communities in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a welcoming country and home to different nationalities. Although EU immigrants make up the majority, you're also sure to cross paths with people from the USA, UK, India, Turkey and so many other countries. It's no wonder why immigration figures are high in the Netherlands – it's a great place for expats to call home!
To help you integrate in the Netherlands, there are several online expat websites with plenty of useful information - from finding expat health insurance, navigating Dutch taxes, tracking down accommodation and mastering the Dutch language, to discovering all the events happening across the country. Here are some examples of where to find these resources:
- IamExpat - the biggest Netherlands expat forum, sharing all the Dutch news and giving support to expats living in the country.
- Expatica - an online expat community that shares guides and information about living and working in the Netherlands.
- Britsoc - the British Society organising British-flavoured events and meetups for every English-speaking expat.
- Expat Republic - an online platform uniting expats living in the Netherlands and sharing useful tips on everyday matters.
Nowadays, Amsterdam is not the only great place to live as an expat. There are many other cities with thriving international communities, like Rotterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven, Amstelveen, Groningen, Hilversum, and many other smaller cities in the Netherlands.
Netherlands Immigration rules
If you’re an EEA or Swiss citizen, after you graduate you are free to live and work in the Netherlands by default, without any visa. More tricky immigration rules apply to nationals coming from outside the EEA.
How your immigration status changes after graduation
Non-EEA students, after graduation, need to apply for a different type of visa or residence permit to live and work in the Netherlands. This is the most common two-step route that students take after they graduate:
1. Apply for an orientation year permit.
This permit will give you a year after your studies to figure out what you want to do and find a job as a highly skilled migrant. Four things to note about this permit:
- You need to apply for it yourself, either before the expiration date of your student residence permit or three years after graduating.
- You can apply for the permit after obtaining your Bachelor’s and Master’s, and after each degree, you can get one orientation year permit.
- The permit is valid for 12 months and cannot be extended. Also, you won’t need any additional work permit and can take on any job.
- Although in most cases students from outside EEA are eligible for this permit, there may be some exemptions. Check if you can apply for an orientation year permit here.
2. Get a residence permit as a highly skilled migrant.
After your orientation year permit expires, you will need to get a residence permit if you manage to find a job in the Netherlands. As a highly skilled migrant, you need to find an employer who can apply for a residence permit for you. To be allowed to sponsor your residence permit, your employer must be recognised by the IND. For more information, read about permits for highly skilled migrants.
Interested in learning about the different types of residence permits offered by the Netherlands? View a detailed explanation of the options.
The Netherlands immigration process
If you enjoy life and working in the Netherlands and can see yourself staying in the country long term, you have two options: get a Dutch permanent residency or apply for a Dutch nationality.
You can apply for a Dutch permanent residency after you have lived in the country for at least five years consecutively (some exceptions may apply to this). To obtain a permanent Dutch residency permit, you will need to meet several other requirements and pass the civic integration examination. Check out the official Netherlands immigration website for more information on Dutch permanent residency.
You can ask for the Dutch nationality through naturalisation. To apply for this, you will need to prove that you have lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for at least five consecutive years with a valid residence permit, pass the civic integration examination and meet several other requirements. Explore the official Netherlands immigration website for more information on becoming a Dutch national through naturalisation.
Immigration processing times
The processing time for immigration applications in the Netherlands can vary depending on the type of visa or permit you are applying for, and other personal circumstances.
In general, for most residence permit applications a legal decision period of 60 days applies. For long-term permits, such as Dutch permanent residency or nationality, a decision period can take between six months and one year.
Job opportunities in Netherlands
The Dutch labour market scene is thriving. The unemployment rate is low, average wages are relatively high, and the Dutch work culture is pleasant. With many local companies expanding and international ones setting their headquarters around the country, there are plenty of job opportunities in the Netherlands for international students.
Although you will likely find most job offers in bigger Dutch cities, some great ones may come from companies located outside the cities. To maximise your job hunt, you can take a look at these online websites:
- Linkedin - is a great platform to search for jobs after graduation.
- EURES (European Employment Services) has vacancies listed per European country.
- Page Personnel is a general employment agency.
- European Commission Traineeships Office (Bureau de Stages) is good for finding EU traineeships.
- NL lists companies in the Netherlands that are looking for new talent.
The Netherlands is also a great place to be for the entrepreneurial-minded, with its bustling start-up scene. Innovation and entrepreneurship are highly esteemed here, so if you've ever wanted to take the plunge and launch your own business, this is the place to do it.Furthermore, all the Dutch universities gather alumni groups for graduates to join. As a part of this group, you can connect with fellow graduates, share your experiences, join hosted events
Continue your studies in Netherlands
If you’re an international student soon to be a graduate of one of the Dutch universities and would like to continue to study, there are a few options for you:
- Pursue a Master’s degree. In the Netherlands, the transition from a Bachelor’s to a relevant Master’s degree is very well-organised. You can consult your study advisors and apply for a Master’s degree that matches your academic profile. Head over here to see over 1600 Master’s in the Netherlands.
- Go for a PhD. If you already have a Master’s degree in science and want to deepen your knowledge in a selected field, visit our PhD portal to find a suitable programme in the Netherlands.
- Enrol in a postgraduate diploma or certificate. These accelerated programs are tailored to give you focused instruction in a specific area and can be completed quickly, giving you the skills you need without taking as long as a full degree.
- Apply for a professional qualification. Whether you're looking to enter law, medicine, or psychology, professional organisations and regulatory institutions offer qualifications that can take your career trajectory to a higher level.
Frequently asked questions
1. Do international students need a visa to study in the Netherlands?
Students coming from the EU/EEA and Switzerland don’t need a visa to study in the Netherlands. However, international students from outside the EU/EEA coming to the country to study a full-time university programme need a long-stay visa and a residence permit.
2. Is studying in the Netherlands worth it?
The Netherlands has a wide range of English-taught programmes, a top-notch higher education system, an internationally friendly environment, a nice work-and-life balance and many part-time options for international students. It’s a great place for a study abroad venture!
3. What is the cost of studying in the Netherlands?
For Master’s and Bachelor’s programmes, EU/EEA, Swiss and Surinamese students pay a statutory tuition fee of €2,209 for the 2022-2023 academic year. Meanwhile, other foreign students need to pay institutional tuition fees that can vary between €6,000 and €20,000 per academic year depending on the institution, programme and degree level.
4. How much money is required to study in the Netherlands?
During your studies in the Netherlands, you will need an average budget of 800–1,200 EUR/month. This amount should cover your rent, food, transport and additional spending. The necessary monthly budget for studying in the Netherlands will depend based on the city you choose to live in.
5. Can I study in the Netherlands without IELTS?
Unfortunately, to study an English-taught higher education programme in the Netherlands, you will need to prove that you are proficient in English. You can do so by taking one of the following language tests: IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge English.
6. What are the requirements to study in the Netherlands?
To study in the Netherlands, you'll need to gather all necessary documents for your application; this includes educational records, proof of English proficiency, a personal statement and references. Plus, depending on your nationality, you may need to apply for a study visa and prove that you have enough money to support yourself during your studies.
7. What exams are required to study in the Netherlands?
Usually, the education institution sets a minimum qualification requirement which can vary depending on the programme. You can check onthis website how your diploma compares to the required diploma by the university. Furthermore, an English language test is necessary for higher education studies in the Netherlands.
8. How to get permanent residency while studying in the Netherlands?
You can apply for apermanent residency in the Netherlands after you have lived in the country for at least five years consecutively. Moreover, you will need to meet several other requirements and pass the civic integration examination.