Study in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a small, politically, economically and culturally important neighbor of the Federal Republic of Germany. Relations between the two states are close despite the events of the Second World War.

Interesting facts about the Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a parliamentary monarchy whose representative head is King Willem-Alexander. It is divided into the European metropolitan area and three autonomous overseas areas. The European part of the country covers around 42,000 square kilometers. About 16.9 million people live in this area, which means one of the highest population densities in the world.

Most of the residents live in the Randstad conurbation around Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. The former colonies of Aruba, Caracao and Sint Maarten in the Caribbean belong to the autonomous overseas territories of the kingdom.

In terms of landscape, the Netherlands has attractive coastlines and agricultural plains. The Netherlands are known for their extensive fields of tulips and their cheese industry. Water transport still plays a major role. With Rotterdam, Holland has the largest European port. And the capital Amsterdam is not only located on the water, but is shaped by the water with its numerous canals.

Most of the Dutch cities are architecturally very attractive and offer a wide cultural program with numerous museums and musical events that cover a wide range.

Due to the former colonial rule, the Dutch population is made up of various ethnic groups. Many immigrants come from Africa and the Caribbean, but also from other European countries. The Dutch are seen as open-minded and tolerant. As a rule, they have a good command of both English and German.

In economic terms, the Netherlands is mainly characterized by the export industry, the chemical industry, the manufacturing food industry and the banking sector. But the country also plays a major role in Europe in the education sector. It is a very popular overseas destination with international students. Germans in particular are drawn to the Netherlands in large numbers every year to study. The Netherlands is the second most popular place for them to study abroad.

Studying in the Netherlands – requirements

In order to be able to start a bachelor’s degree at a Dutch university, German applicants need a general higher education entrance qualification. For admission to a bachelor’s degree at a Dutch university college, however, the advanced technical college entrance qualification is sufficient.

In some subjects there is an admission restriction through the so-called Numerus Fixus, through which around a fifth of the study places are allocated. Especially with foreign students, there may be a quota regulation, especially in the medical subjects. So far, the allocation of study places has been done by lottery. The universities have been using a decentralized selection process since 2017.

Certain subject combinations as a prerequisite for study

For some subjects, however, it is necessary to be able to show a certain combination of subjects from the upper school years when enrolling. If this is not possible for the applicants, they can take additional exams in the relevant subjects during the course of their studies. In economics and social sciences, for example, mathematics is a prerequisite, in medicine, pharmacy and biology it is physics and chemistry. In the other natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, on the other hand, mathematics and physics are required. In theology and classical philology, Latin and Greek are admission requirements.

Application deadline for studying in the Netherlands

For courses with no admission, the application deadline is usually in July of the previous year. For subjects with restricted admission, January 15 is usually the deadline for applying for the selection process.

Admission to master’s and doctorate in the Netherlands

For admission to a master’s degree, good grades and an acceptable period of study in the previous bachelor’s degree are important. The same applies to applying for a doctoral degree with regard to previous studies. If graduates from a university want to apply for a doctorate, they usually have to show certain certificates of achievement.

Language skills for studying in the Netherlands

If you choose a course in Dutch, you of course need sufficient language skills, which must be proven in the application process. The Certificaat Nederlanda als Vremde Taal (NT2) is a generally recognized test. If a sufficient test result is not available, the universities test the language skills in internal procedures. These consist of a written and an oral test. It therefore makes sense in advance to attend appropriate language courses at universities or private institutions either in Germany or in the Netherlands, a country located in Europe according to localtimezone.

If you want to take part in an English-language course, you usually have to achieve minimum points in standardized test procedures such as TOEFL or IELTS. In addition, some Dutch universities offer courses in German, for which of course no language certificate is required.

Costs and financing options

Until recently, studying in the Netherlands was cheap in that foreign students could expect their tuition fees to be reimbursed. However, since 2012 the state universities have been charging an annual, statutory tuition fee ( Wetterlijk Collegegeld ) of currently EUR 2,006.

At private and international institutions, the fees can be much higher. Students under 30 who are EU citizens and have their own Dutch bank account can still hope for a partial refund of their tuition fees. An additional fee is what is known as the placement college fee. Students who have not registered their primary residence in one of the following (federal) states have to pay this:

  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Lower Saxony
  • Bremen

The fee varies depending on the university.

Cost of living

The cost of living in the Netherlands is roughly the same as in Germany. Depending on the place of study and standard of living, the monthly expenses vary between EUR 700 and 900. A one-room apartment costs between EUR 200 and 400 on average.

Due to the high number of students in the Netherlands, cheap housing has become a rare commodity, especially in university towns. It is advisable to look for a room in a dormitory very early on. In some Dutch cities there is also the possibility of winning an interview for one of the coveted private apartments by drawing lots.

Financing studies in the Netherlands

On the one hand, the federal government with the Auslands-BAföG offers good opportunities for financial support during your studies in the Netherlands. Due to the different funding rates abroad, it is independent of the domestic BAföG. In addition, the federal government grants so-called education loans. Economic, cultural or political organizations also support qualified young students abroad with scholarships. You should inquire about this in good time. And even the Netherlands itself offers short and long term scholarships for very gifted students.

If you prefer to earn extra income yourself and get to know the country and its people better, you can do that in Holland without any problems. All that is required is registration at the local tax office and the associated assignment of a tax and social security number.

Full-time students under the age of 30 who work at least 56 hours per month in addition to their studies can apply for Dutch study funding. Part of this loan has to be repaid. A monthly ticket for local public transport is included.

Study in the Netherlands