There are fifty higher education institutions in the Netherlands. They consist of 36 higher professional education institutions and 14 universities. More broadly, higher education is offered by two distinct types of institutions: hogenscholen, or ‘universities of applied science’, and research universities. They can further be distinguished according to governance regime, with public universities being fully funded by the government. Their fees are regulated by the government, whereas private institutions’ fees are in each individual institutions’ discretion.
As a member state of the European Union, the Dutch educational system follows the Bologna framework ever since its implementation in 2002. According to EU law, EU citizens are guaranteed the same conditions for study to those of the natives; conditions for international students are subject to individual institutions’ regulations, as well as visa and residency requirements. The Netherlands is a sought-after destination for higher education, having hosted over 120 000 international students in 2017/18. For more information please refer to https://www.government.nl/ministries/ministry-of-education-culture-and-science.
The Netherland’s educational system is governed by the European Bologna framework. It follows the ‘bachelor's master's doctorate system’, with Bachelor’s usually comprising three to four years, followed by a Master’s typically lasting one to two years. Doctoral degree, which are being offered only by research universities, usually takes three to five years, and is usually completed while working at the university as a research assistant.
Enrolment into Bachelor’s programmes is conditional on possession of a VWO or HAVO secondary education diploma, depending on the subject of one’s studies. International qualification such as A levels, International Baccalaureate, etc. are generally accepted, however the guidelines of the institution of one’s choice needs to be consulted. To be accepted to a Master’s or Doctoral programme, students must have a relevant Bachelor or Master’s degree respectively from an accredited institution. Graduates of ‘applied science university’ institutions pursuant ‘research university’ postgraduate studies may be subject to further requirements.
Admissions for public institutions are administered centrally; some programmes are also subject to stringent admission quotas. Depending on one’s previous academic record, an applicant may be entitled to a direct admission, or allocated a place in a weighted draw. All applications to first-year courses are filed through the ‘Studielink’ online platform, with an interview being a common part of the admission process. An intermediate level of proficiency in Dutch or English is also required, as the language of instruction is either English or Dutch for the majority of courses.
In terms of financing your studies, the fees vary depending on the student’s residency status. For home and EU students, the cost of study is covered mostly by the government, with the exception of a fixed annual ‘statutory’ fee of around €2 000. For international students, fees vary significantly by institution and individual circumstances at public institutions. Private schools tuition costs, on the other hand, vary between €16 000 and €36 000 for the entirety of the course.
Nonetheless, the Dutch government also has a student financing system (studiefinanciering) to assist students with paying their study and living costs, including public transport. Moreover, in 2015 the Dutch government introduced the Holland Scholarship worth €5 000 intended to attract international students outside the EEA.
Information for International Students
The Netherlands has strong ties with numerous international institutions and participates in a variety of student mobility programmes, such as Erasmus+ Netherlands Fellowship Programme, etc. If you are a non-EU citizen, however, there are stringent requirements integral to the admission process. This may include necessity to apply for a study visa, or a residence permit; additionally, all international students must have a valid passport, demonstrate ability to support oneself financially, arrange a travel insurance, etc. Ensuring your past qualifications are recognized by the institution, supplying transcripts of previous education and obtaining requisite language certificates are also some of the things you should consider when applying.
Living costs vary depending on the region of your studies, with average monthly student costs of approximately €1 000 amounting to a fair approximation for most areas. A major part of this sum is attributable to rental accommodation, costing between €300 and €600 per month, and food, amounting to approximately €150 to €170. Public transportation may cost between to €35 to €70 per month, but alternative modes of transport such as riding a bike are fairly common.