Life Abroad
10 min

Five Reasons To Study in the Netherlands

If you are pursuing a prestigious education abroad and looking for a country where you can study in English and get a scholarship, consider the Netherlands.

The cost of studying here is more affordable than in the US or UK, and thanks to the wide variety of programs in English, you can move here without knowing Dutch.

In this article, you’ll find five reasons why the Netherlands would be a great destination on your educational path.

High-Quality Education

According to QS World University Rankings 2022, 13 Dutch universities are among the top 350 in the world. They are acknowledged all around the globe for their scientific discovery and research.

Leiden University, Utrecht University, Wageningen University and Research, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and the Eindhoven University of Technology are just some institutions that are popular and highly regarded on the international stage.

Affordable Tuition Fees

Compared to the UK and US, studying in the Netherlands is cheaper. In the US, students who don’t get scholarships or grants pay an average of $20,000 to $70,000 a year. Studying in the UK costs just as much. For example, StudyFree mentor Irina Lavrishcheva paid  £20,300 a year when studying in a master's program at the University of Reading.

Studying at the undergraduate level in the Netherlands costs on average €6,000-15,000 per year for non-EU students. For master’s programs, it is €8,000-20,000. One of the reasons is that it is easier to get funding here compared to the US. For example, the Fulbright Program provides only around 40 scholarships for Russian students annually. 

Scholarships for International Students

Scholarship programs cover a part or all of your study costs at local universities. Some scholarships are offered by specific universities, such as the University of Twente scholarship or the VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP).

The most well-known and generous scholarships for international students are the Holland Scholarship and the Orange Tulip Scholarship.

Students enrolling in undergraduate and graduate programs at participating universities can apply for the Holland Scholarship. You can find the latest list of institutions on the Study In Holland website.

To be eligible for this scholarship, you must:

  1. be a non-EEA citizen;
  2. be applying for a full-time bachelor’s or master’s program at one of the participating Dutch universities;
  3. meet the requirements of the study program that you can find on the university’s website;
  4. not receive other scholarships from the university or government;
  5. have no degree from a Dutch university.

Orange Tulip Scholarship is a scholarship program for talented students from countries that have Netherlands Education Support Offices (Neso). Among them are Russia, Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, and Vietnam. Scholarships are available for those studying in bachelor’s and master’s programs in economics, business, international finance, art, law, medicine, and engineering.

To be eligible for this scholarship, you must:

  1. be a citizen of one of the following countries: China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Korea, Russia, or Vietnam;
  2. be between 18 to 35 years old (except for some MBA programs where applicants can be up to 45 years old);
  3. not have a degree from a Dutch education institution;
  4. have a good command of English (IELTS over 6.0 or TOEFL over 80 iBT);
  5. independently apply for admission or be already admitted to a study program at one of the institutions participating in OTS.

Local People Speaking English

Many people in the Netherlands indeed speak fluent English, although the official language of the country is Dutch. There are several reasons for this.

Dutch and English are both Germanic languages. When it comes to speaking English, the Dutch have a linguistic advantage over people from other countries. Dutch and English come from the same West Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family.

Besides, the Dutch language is the closest to English among the major languages. Dutch and English are very similar in their grammar.

Dutch children start to learn English at an early age.  English is mandatory in Dutch secondary schools. At the end of primary education, students take a test that determines their level. The elementary level of English at a Dutch secondary school means that a student speaks English fluently.

The second level focuses on teaching students professional English. At level three, students learn to understand academic and scientific English and communicate in it. To graduate from high school, Dutch students have to score 5.5 out of 10 on the English language and literature final exams.

TV in English. Many programs on local television are broadcast in the original language (English) with Dutch subtitles. This is why many people understand and speak it fluently.

Most importantly, the majority of programs in the Netherlands are in English. For example, StudyFree mentor Olga Kovalenko completed an English-speaking bachelor’s degree in International Business and Management at HAN University of Applied Sciences. We have a separate article where Olga shares more about her experience.

Opportunity To Stay in the Country After Study

Within three years after graduation or completion of a doctoral degree, a graduate can apply for Orientation Year for Highly Educated Persons. It allows you to stay in the country legally to find a job. The program application fee is €192.

To participate, you must meet certain conditions. You are eligible if in the past three years you have:

  • completed an accredited bachelor's or master's program at a Dutch higher education institution or a post-master's program of at least an academic year (a minimum of 10 months) in the Netherlands;
  • completed a study in the context of the Cultural Policy Act or a study that is provided in relation to the development cooperation policy of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • obtained a master's degree in the context of an Erasmus Mundus Masters Course;
  • completed a higher education program designated by Ministerial Decree;
  • done scientific research at any time for which you have had a residence permit in the Netherlands;
  • completed a master's or post-master's program or obtained a PhD at a designated international educational institution and you: 
  • have achieved a minimum of 6.0 for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or a comparable minimum score in another accepted English language test (TOEFL, TOEIC en Cambridge English grades & scale);
  • received a diploma, certificate, or other document confirming that you have completed a master's, post-master's, or doctoral program in the English or Dutch language.

You can learn more about the requirements and how to apply for the program on the website of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service.