Study in The Netherlands

Study in The Netherlands

Last edited on 23 Apr 2024

Welcome to the Netherlands!

The Netherlands gets its name from the fact that around a quarter of this small north western European nation lies below sea level. Beyond its traditional associations (think windmills, tulips, and clogs), it is one of the most developed and wealthy nations in the world, with a largely urban population. One of the most densely populated countries in Europe, it’s known for its tolerant and liberal ethos, and boasts a wealth of great student cities – none of which are more than a bicycle ride (the nation’s preferred mode of transport) away from some picturesque countryside.

The Netherlands is located in north western Europe and is bordered by the North Sea to the north and west, Germany to the east and Belgium to the south. The inland area is below sea level in some places, protected by coastal dunes and dikes. The capital of the country is Amsterdam, but The Hague is the seat of the King, Government and Parliament. Leeuwarden, in the North, was the European City of Culture in 2018. The country has a population of 17.4 millions. Key economic sectors include agriculture, chemicals, energy, as well life sciences, new and sustainable energy, high tech (Micro and Nano technology, ICT), and research and development. The official language is Dutch, while English is also widely understood and spoken. The Netherlands is a member of multiple international organisations including the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe, the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Higher Education System

The education system in the Netherlands is known for its high quality in education and research, its international study environment, and its competitive pricing. The Netherlands has the most English taught courses after the UK. The Netherlands is particularly popular with international students, and according to the latest statistics from UNESCO, it is a host country to nearly 60,000 foreign students each year – including almost 1000 tertiary level students from India. The Netherlands is particularly popular with international students, and according to public higher education (DUO) over 122,000 international students studied in Dutch higher education institution.

The Netherlands higher educational system is a dual system composed of two main types of regular higher education: Research University and University of Applied Sciences. Research Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences award both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. A bachelor’s programme at a university requires three years of full-time study (180 ECTS credits) to complete, while a bachelor’s programme offered by a university of applied sciences requires four years of full-time study (240 credits). Depending on the discipline, Master’s programmes at universities, universities of applied sciences and institutes for International Education, last one to two years (60-120 ECTS credits). Doctorate (PhD) programmes are only offered at research universities and last at least four years.

The Netherlands has a very high standard of education and a total of 10 out of 18 research universities are featured in the Global Top 200 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022, of which 7 – Wageningen University & Research (53), University of Amsterdam (65), Utrecht University (69), Leiden University (71), Erasmus University Rotterdam (72), Delft University of Technology (75), and University of Groningen (80) – are ranked in the global Top 100.

A database of 2,100 international study programmes is available on the Study in Holland website.

Working while studying in The Netherlands

Working while studying in The Netherlands

Alongside your studies, international students will have the opportunity to work depending on your nationality.  

EU/EEA/Switzerland Nationals

If you are from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you are free to work without restrictions. You do not need a work permit and there are no restrictions regarding working hours, other than the restrictions and rules stipulated by Dutch law in the Working Hours Act (ATW).

Non- EU/EEA/Switzerland Nationals

If you are from outside Europe, there are some restrictions for you to be eligible to work alongside your studies. Firstly, your employer has to provide you with a work permit. You can only work if you have this specific work permit and secondly, you can either work for a maximum of 16 hours a week during the year, or full-time during the months of June, July and August. 

Read more about working while studying here.

Life after studies

A Dutch diploma gives you endless possibilities to build up a successful future. The way of teaching, the education system and your experiences will provide a great climate for developing skills and knowledge you could not get anywhere else.

After your studies, international graduates are entitled to apply for an orientation year visa or known as ‘zoekjaar’ which translates to search year. With the orientation year visa, you can gain free access to the Dutch labour market or even start a business for another one year directly after finishing your studies. You will get this opportunity every time you finish your studies from a Dutch higher education institution, and you are allowed to apply the visa within three years after the date on your diploma or certificate. The application fee for this visa is € 194. 

Whether you continue studying, look for a job, return to your home country, or leave for another country, make sure you stay connected to your fellow students and to the Netherlands. You can join the NL Alumni network, facilitated by Nuffic, as the international network for NL Alumni, international students, higher education institutions and the Dutch business society. Through the network you can connect with fellow alumni and students from your home country, your scholarship programme, your Dutch host institution or your area of expertise.

Universities in The Netherlands