When you’re considering study abroad locations, you’ve probably thought about the Netherlands as a viable place to pursue your education; you may have noticed that it’s a popular spot for international studies, and that Netherlands has started to stand out in terms of higher education opportunities.
So, what are the plus-sides, and what are the downsides of studying in the Netherlands?
The 4 Pros of Studying in the Netherlands
1. The Dutch are bilingual wizards
You may be shocked to find that more than three quarters of the population in the Netherlands claim to be proficient in English. It’s true! This is also a great advantage if you are a foreigner and don’t speak any Dutch. The fact that English is everywhere will makes life outside of the university campus quite easy. Of course, learning a language is wonderful and you’re advised to at least learn a few basic Dutch words so you can fit in better.
However, you won’t have to struggle with the language barrier in the beginning and you can easily interact in English with people everywhere: at the university, supermarkets, and government buildings.
And, of course, the language of instruction, especially for Master and PhD programmes, is mostly English.
2. Your career will get the coveted Netherlands boost
Dutch universities are known to be among the best universities in the world, competing with other famous UK and U.S. universities. You could say Netherlands is one of the top non-English speaking countries where you can study abroad, get quality education and find loads of degrees taught in English.
It goes without saying that graduating from a university in the Netherlands will provide you with numerous advantages for your future career. You will not only be able to find a job in the Netherlands (especially in English-speaking companies), but your qualification will be recognised and valued all over the world.
So, take advantage of this opportunity, and see how it can serve you best in the future.
3. You have plenty of scholarships to choose from
Both public and private universities in the Netherlands charge tuition fees for Bachelor, Master and PhD programmes. Here are some important things to know about tuition fees in the Netherlands
- EU students benefit the advantage of being charged smaller fees compared to non-EU students.
- The average tuition for a Bachelor’s degree ranges between 2,000 and 6,000 EUR year, whereas the costs for a Master’s programme start from 8,000 and can lead up to 20,000 EUR/year.
Applying for a scholarship is the best way to make sure you can cover the high costs. Here are a few examples of scholarships for international students:
- Holland Scholarships for non-EEA students – award is up to 5,000 EUR/year
- Netherlands Fellowship Programmes – for students coming from developing countries
- Other scholarship opportunities – provided by Dutch universities, associations and companies
- You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies in the Netherlands.
Some universities (mostly the technology and engineering related ones) work in collaboration with private companies, and these companies also award scholarships.
One tip: Your GPA is hugely important for getting scholarships. The higher your grade is compared to other applicants, the higher your chance of getting a scholarship. Of course, it also depends on the academic year, other applicants, the department, etc.
4. Get two Master's degrees for the price of one!
According to a state regulation, if you pay the statutory tuition fees for your first enrolment (in a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree), if you decide to enrol to a second degree at the same time, you will be exempted from paying any tuition for your second programme. This applies if you enrol at the same university or a different one, as long as they are both public universities.
Additionally, within most Dutch universities, you can choose as many elective courses as you want and you don’t have to pay an additional fee.
A new policy also states that if you are from an EU/EEA country or Suriname and you start studying a Bachelor’s at a public university in the Netherlands in 2021-2022, you will only pay half of the tuition fee in the first year. The key condition to be eligible is to not have studied in the Netherlands before.
The fee discount also applies to Master’s degrees in Teaching as long as you've started higher education in 2018-2019 or later.
Learn more about the half-tuition-fee policy in the Netherlands.
The 3 Cons of Studying in the Netherlands
1. Time to grow up. Fast!
If you come from a country where the education system is more traditional, (i.e. the professors give you a schedule and tell you what and when to do, courses are more practical and project-based), you may feel lost here in the Netherlands, since the faculty have a different attitude towards students and education.
As a student, you have to take responsibility, be active during class and feel free to share your ideas and opinions.
You should definitely develop a strategic plan long before the project deadlines, do a thorough research and present your ideas clearly and concisely. In one word, you will become an independent learner.
2. The Dutch might be too weird for your style
If you come from a society where there is hierarchy and where you’re expected keep a certain distance between you and your professors, you may come across some cultural problems. There is a more casual relationship between students and the faculty in the Netherlands.
For example, where you come from, you may have never dreamt of saying “What’s up?” to a 60-year-old professor, right? But here in the Netherlands, they encourage this kind of casual relationship.
If you can’t adjust to this attitude, there is a possibility that you will be considered “shy” or someone who has “communication problems”.
3. Nice weather is practically non-existent in the Netherlands
Unfortunately, Netherlands is not a country where you can enjoy constant sunny weather. In fact, while the Netherlands has four seasons in theory, in fact summer season starts…well, never! So, when you catch a mere glimpse at the sun, enjoy it while you can.
Every other day of the year, you’ll have just rainy and windy weather. Winters are, on the other hand, pretty mild, so you won’t enjoy a lot of snow either. Admittedly, that can be a pro or a con at the same time, depending on whether you’re much of a winter or a summer type of person.
Think it through and figure out if Netherlands would be the perfect spot for your higher education studies. Look into Bachelor and Master degrees offered by Dutch universities, and if you believe the cons of studying in the Netherlands are something you can easily handle or won’t bother you at all, then look no further and come study abroad in the wonderful Land of Windmills!
Do you want to put things in perspective? Take a look at a comparison between Netherlands and Germany as study destinations. Ready to go to the Netherlands?
Find out more about the Dutch student visa
If you are starting to consider studying in Netherlands, remember to inform yourself about the visa requirements if you are from outside the EU/EEA. Here are more details about the Dutch visa based on your nationality: