The safe and multicultural environment with affordable study costs provided by the Netherlands makes this country an incredibly attractive destination for your studies abroad.
The Netherlands is one of the first countries to offer international study programmes taught entirely in English. It is also known for its innovative and very straightforward teaching style, which attracts tens of thousands of international students worldwide each year.
Applying to a Dutch university is pretty straightforward as well. However, you should keep a few things in mind before applying.
1. Dutch universities to consider for your studies
Here are some top Dutch universities you should consider for your study abroad adventure:
- Utrecht University
- Erasmus University Rotterdam
- Eindhoven University of Technology
- Radboud University
- University of Twente
- Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
- Tilburg University
2. Prepare to apply
- Before you choose your degree at a Dutch university, do your research rigorously and make sure it fits your interests and career goals. See Bachelor's and Master's courses in the Netherlands.
- Check out if you meet the entry requirements and admission qualifications of the university. Your educational background and grade point average (GPA) from prior studies will determine if you qualify for your chosen degree.
- For some Master's programmes, there is an online eligibility check offered by universities, meant to help students find out if they are eligible for that specific programme.
- Be careful to check if you have to pay the Statutory tuition fee (for EU/EEA students and a few exceptions for non-EU/EEA) or the Institutional tuition fee (usually, for non-EU/EEA students). Tuition for non-EU/EEA students is usually higher.
- Look for scholarship opportunities to cover your study expenses. You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.
- Figure out if you need a student visa. This usually applies to international students who don't come from the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). In this case, you will need to prepare the necessary documents in advance.
3. Where to apply
Where to apply for degrees with no restrictions
1. Join the Numerus Fixus degree course lottery — a university application system managed by the Dutch government. With Numerus Fixus, you increase your chances of being admitted to a degree course.
However, most of the programmes are taught in Dutch. The main exceptions you can apply to an English-taught degree via Numerus Fixus are Medicine, Psychology, International Business Administration, and Physiotherapy.
2. Apply directly to the universities websites after carefully checking the entry requirements for your desired study programmes.
Where to apply for degrees with local restrictions
1. For some degree programmes, you can apply through Studielink (similar to the UCAS system in the UK). Studielink allows you to apply for up to four courses at a time. You have the possibility to change the courses you wish to apply for at any time before the enrollment deadline.
If you are rejected by one university, you can then apply to another one. Furthermore, from 2019-2020 you will also be able to apply to Numerus fixus programmes via Studielink.
2. The Dutch Ministry of Education can set a national quota for various degrees offered by universities.
Sometimes, the number of students who wish to enrol in a certain programme exceeds this national quota. In that case, students are advised to rank the institutions in order of preference, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are not eligible for being admitted.
DUO (part of the Dutch Ministry of Education) administrates places on limited quota degree courses and may require you to submit certified copies of your academic records.
4. Language requirements for a Dutch university application
If you want to apply for an English-taught degree, the accepted certifications are:
If you want to pursue your studies in Dutch, you need to pass the Dutch TUL intermediate exam or hold a Dutch NT2-II diploma.
5. Required university application documents
- A copy of passport or ID card
- A passport picture
- A personal statement in English (should contain around 500-800 words answering questions such as: Why and what would you like to study at the university? What are your plans after graduation?)
- Copies of obtained secondary school diplomas, certificates and/or grade lists (uploaded diplomas and/or grade lists which are not in English, French, German or Dutch need to be accompanied by an official English translation)
- Transcript of records
- Proof of English/Dutch language proficiency
- Proof of payment of application fee (50 – 100 EUR)
Some universities may require additional documents, such as:
- CV or resume (including two referees)
- Motivation letter
- Sample of academic written work
6. University application deadlines for the Netherlands
Check the application deadline directly with the universities you are interested in, because they may vary.
- The application deadline for most courses: 1st of May
- At some universities, the application deadline is: 1st of February or the 1st of March
- For the Numerous Fixus and DUO platform, the deadline is typically 15th of January
The general recommendation is that you apply by mid-April at the latest so that you will have enough time to arrange your visa (if you need one) and housing before starting your studies.
Set up your account on Studielink by 1st of May. If you have applied for a limited quota programme, earlier deadlines may apply.
7. Final steps after receiving your university acceptance letter
Studying in the Netherlands means a few extra steps after the application process:
- Settle your health insurance. If you are coming from an EU/EEA country, the health insurance in your country will also work in the Netherlands. But you will need to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to make use of this. If health insurance is not valid, you will have to pay 80 – 160 EUR per month to cover this.
After arriving in the Netherlands:
- For EU students: contact a local governing body to receive a personal public service number (BSN).
- For non-EU students: you will have to get a residence permit; the university will apply on your behalf, you just have to submit the required documents.
Students must officially enrol at the university before they can start their classes. You also have to pay your tuition fee.