Education System in the Netherlands. The HAVO diploma is the minimum requirement for admission to HBO (universities of professional education). The last two years of HAVO and the last three years of VWO are referred to as the second phase (tweede fase), or upper secondary education.
1. An international and multicultural environment
Some may ask “Why study in the Netherlands?” But with boat trips on canals and lakes, lazing on beaches, enjoying the view of the woods, a moderate climate and the crossroads where the German, British, French, Chinese and many other cultures meet, others would say “Why not?”
International students from all over the world come to study in the Netherlands. In 2014/15, international students came from a total of 157 different countries, mostly from Germany, China, Belgium, Italy and Spain. Most Dutch universities have international student associations, which help students throughout their studies.
The Netherlands is also a unique non-Anglophone country, where approximately 95% of locals speak English. This factor makes living, studying, and working in the Netherlands very convenient, comfortable and pleasant for international students. The Netherlands is also very open and tolerant, welcoming everyone to share their opinions and express themselves. This is very much encouraged during your studies.
2. Affordable study costs
Studying in the Netherlands is not that expensive, compared with other English-speaking countries such as the UK or US. Dutch higher education is subsidized by the government and tuition fees are relatively low. With the country’s renowned standard of education and comparatively low cost of living, studying in the Netherlands will give you true value for money. Annual tuition fees for a degree program or course at a Dutch higher education institution start at approximately €1,900 for EU students and €6,000 for non-EU students, depending on the institution.
Further, if you decide to have a job alongside your studies, you can also declare these expenses, and get some money back from taxes. How cool is that? In addition, many Dutch universities offer grants and scholarships that can reduce or fully cover the tuition fees of study programs.
3. Innovative teaching methods
The Dutch educational system is of high quality and Dutch universities are acknowledged worldwide for their well-designed, modern courses and facilities. The teaching style focuses on teamwork, which makes it easy for international students in the Netherlands to meet Dutch people as well as other international students.
Dutch universities place a strong emphasis on good personal relations between professors and students. Most tutorials and seminars take place in small groups of around 15-30 students. Most of your coursework will consist of group work, developing not only your academic skills but also your ability to work together as part of a team. Dutch universities include many practical elements in their degree courses. There is a high emphasis on relevant practical experiences, and universities have a lot of partnerships with Dutch companies, as well as international ones.
As well as general universities, there are also universities of applied sciences, which provide more specialized studies. For those who prefer to gain insights into practical issues, a university of applied sciences might be more attractive. These focus more on practical experiences and less on theoretical and research matters.
4. Affordable living expenses
Compared with other western European locations, the cost of living in the Netherlands is relatively low. From my own experience and from my friends’, you will need between €800 and €1,000 per month. To fund this, you can combine part-time jobs and study finance. If you are a EU student, you can work 32 hours a month and be eligible for a €265 grant and a student OV-Chipkaart for free public transportation either during the week or weekends.
There are many useful websites for students to find student accommodation. I would advise you to start looking for accommodation early, because there is a huge demand. From my experience, if starting studies in September, the best months to start looking for accommodation are May, June and July. Definitely don’t wait until August, as you will end up either finding expensive or low quality rooms.
As a student, you can also get discounts in many bars, restaurants, museums and cinemas. You can get around town easily on a bicycle. This is not only typically Dutch, but also a cheap means of transportation. You should definitely ask for an ISIC Student Card to get many more benefits and discounts.
5. A wide range of degrees taught in English
The Netherlands is known as the first non-English speaking country in which universities started to design higher education study programs in English, to attract students coming from abroad. More than 2,100 English-taught study programs and courses are available in the Netherlands, covering a broad range of fields, and leading to a bachelor’s, master’s, PhD, diploma or certificate.
It certainly does sound great: high-quality, affordable education offered in many disciplines, in an international, open-minded country. However, Dutch universities do have strict language requirements if you come from a country where English is not the native language. As an international student you are required to take the TOEFL, IELTS or a similar English language test. You should check the university where you are planning to apply, for more details about their requirements.
As I mentioned, the Netherlands is a very international country and very convenient as most people speak English. Nevertheless, I think it’s always valuable to take an introductory Dutch language course to at least pick up the basics, and many universities in the Netherlands offer Dutch languages courses for internationals. You can also use other online resources to find language courses, as well as new cool language apps and dictionaries to ease your stay in the Netherlands.
6. Excellent opportunities for travel
The Netherlands is centrally located in Europe and is in easy reach of all major European cities. The Netherlands is often described as the “gateway to Europe”. It takes only about an hour to fly from Amsterdam to Paris, Berlin, Brussels, or London. It also has great connections and accessibility by train to all major European cities.
The Netherlands also has a well-developed and connected transportation system, and various discounts for students make travelling quite affordable. As mentioned, when working 32 hours a month, you can also get a student OV-Chipkaart, which gives you access to free public transportation. This makes it very convenient and cheap to explore the whole country. Further, you will love how easy it is to get around with a bike – the preferred means of transportation of the Dutch, and also the cheapest. You can cycle in peace, confidence and tranquility, as there are dedicated roads for cyclists.
7. Internationally recognized degrees
The Netherlands has also been recognized as a knowledge center with rich study traditions and well-known universities. Scientific research at Dutch universities is very highly valued at both the national and international level. Education in the Netherlands meets all international standards and is well-reputed worldwide. A diploma from a Dutch university provides an opportunity to start one’s own business and can be very useful in terms of having a successful career in any country of the world.
The most recognized universities in the Netherlands include the University of Amsterdam, Leiden University and Utrecht University. Personally I also recommend Maastricht University (where I am studying for my master’s degree); it is also highly accredited and has a very effective teaching method called project-based learning. This makes you study actively, participate, work in teams and focus on real-life problems.
Student visa (MVV) and residence permit (VVR)
Do I need both a visa or residence permit?
You will need a student visa (MVV) and a residence permit (VVR) if you are:
- entering the Netherlands as a degree-seeking student or study abroad student for a period of 90 days or longer
- not a citizen of one of the following countries:
If you are staying for less than 90 days, or are a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea or USA, please refer to the nationality table to check which procedures you should follow.
What are the application requirements?
Leiden University Admissions Office will take care of your student visa and residence permit application on your behalf. However, please note that we can only do so if you meet the following requirements:
- you have a valid passport
- you have been admitted to a full-time programme
- you can demonstrate you have sufficient funds to cover your living expenses.
What is the application procedure?
Once the Admissions Office has received all your documents and fees, it will submit your visa and/or residence permit application to the Dutch Immigration Department (IND). Don’t forget to let us know in which country you wish to collect your visa. Please note that you may only collect your visa in a country where you have official residency and you may not be in the Netherlands during the visa application and processing period.
We will inform you as soon as your application has been approved. This usually takes four to six weeks. You will then receive an official invitation to collect your visa from the relevant Dutch embassy or consulate. Once in the Netherlands you can collect your residence permit from the Dutch Immigration Department (IND). The Admissions Office will provide you with instructions on when and where to do so after you have arrived.
Student residence permits are issued for the duration of your study programme plus 3 months. Please note that you may be required to apply for a new residence permit if you start a new study programme or if you need more time to complete your programme. See extending your residence permit for more information.
What else do I need to know?
- If your study programme is longer than 12 months you will be asked to submit a new financial statement prior to each subsequent year of study, stating that you have sufficient funds to cover your living costs for the upcoming study period (up to 12 months).
- Leiden University will be required to inform the IND if you discontinue your studies, terminate your registration as a student of Leiden University, or if you no longer have sufficient funds to cover your living costs. This may result in the IND cancelling your visa/residence permit.
- Due to immigration legislation and the Code of Conduct governing International Students in Higher Education Leiden University will be required to cancel your residence permit if you obtain less than 50% of the required academic credits (ECTS) per year (with the exception of insufficient study progress resulting from exceptional circumstances as specified in WHW 7.51).
Please refer to the fact sheet for students holding a residence permit.
Do I need a TBC examination?
To fight the worldwide spread of tuberculosis, some non-EU/EEA citizens staying in the Netherlands for three months or longer must be tested for tuberculosis. This means that in order to obtain your residence permit you may be required to undergo a tuberculosis examination and, if necessary, treatment for tuberculosis.
More about the TB test and how to make an appointment.
8 reasons to study in Holland
Why should you study in Holland?
Did you know that 1 in 10 students in Holland is an international student? Holland has more than 90,000 international students and that number is increasing every year. So why should you study in Holland?
1. There are 2,100 + programmes in English
Dutch universities offer the largest number of English-taught programmes in continental Europe. Also, 95% of the Dutch speak English, so it’s easy to communicate in daily life.
2. Get high quality education and value for your money
Also, there are lots of scholarship opportunities.
3. Be part of an international community
Holland’s many international students come from 190 different countries. Dutch society is strongly connected to other cultures, the business community and the world. The Dutch are open-minded and direct, so it is easy to meet them and exchange ideas.
4. Develop valuable skills and be more successful
The Dutch teaching style is interactive and student-centred. Studying in Holland means developing your own opinion, an open mind and increasing your international orientation. You will develop valuable skills such as analysing, solving practical problems and creative thinking.
5. Live in one of the safest and happiest countries in the world
Holland is one of the safest countries in the world, according to theand belongs to the top 10 happiest countries in the world. Read more about the good Dutch standard of living in the .
6. Have the rest of Europe at your doorstep
An international trip is just around the corner. In just three hours you can be in Paris. London and Berlin are just a five or six hour train ride away. Holland is the gateway to Europe!
7. Get plenty of international career opportunities
Holland is the. Some of the world’s biggest multinationals, including Philips, Heineken, KLM, Shell, ING and Unilever, are Dutch. Holland is a world leader in many areas of expertise, including agriculture, water management, art & design, logistics and sustainable energy.
8. Start a career in Holland after graduation
The Dutch government wants to attract knowledge and retain talent. International graduates can therefore apply for a residence permit of one year to find a job, or start a business within three years of graduation. For more info on thisas well as tips on how to find a job go to the website and join our to increase your chances on the job market