Tutor helping students study

Dutch education system

Higher education in Netherlands

Dutch universities are world-renowned for high quality teaching and research. Many degrees are taught in English and more than 100,000 international students choose to study in Holland every year. 

High quality education

Eleven out of 13 research universities in the Netherlands are ranked in the world's top 200 according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021.

Relatively low tuition fees

Average annual tuition is relatively lower than in the UK, USA and Australia. Students from EEA, Switzerland or Surinam pay €2,060 per year. Other nationalities pay between €6,000 to €15,000 per year. (Source: Study in Holland 2018/19).

Degrees in English

There are more than 2,100 English-taught programmes in Holland – more than in any other country in continental Europe.

Universities offer three main education levels:

  1. Undergraduate
  2. Postgraduate
  3. PhD

In addition, universities of technology offer PDEng (Professional Doctorate in Engineering) and universities of applied sciences also offer Associate degrees. 

Bachelor’s degrees are usually three or four years and students often go on to study a master’s. Many students also complete an internship as part of their programme

Interactive teaching and learning

Education in Holland is interactive and focuses on teamwork and sharing ideas. In class you will be encouraged to express your own opinion, respect other views, and are free to ask questions whenever you like.

Degrees include a mix of lectures, seminars, tutorials, group work and even projects with local employers. Seminar groups are small – usually 15 to 30 students – so you can get support from your tutor and develop key soft skills such as communication and presentation skills. 

Practical experience

Many courses include an element of practical experience. Depending on your course, this may involve work in a laboratory, studio, or computer lab. Most universities have strong partnerships with businesses, so there are good opportunities to gain practical work experience. 

Assessment types

Assessment varies depending on your chosen degree. It may include:

  • Coursework
  • Project work
  • Presentations
  • Participation in seminars
  • Written assignments
  • Practical tasks
  • Written thesis

Grading and credits 

Degree credits

Dutch universities use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to offer an easy comparison of workload between degrees across Europe. 

You will earn credits throughout your degree. One credit represents about 25-30 working hours, and each year of study is worth 60 credits. 

Binding study advice

Binding study advice is unique to the Dutch university system. This is the number of credits you need to obtain in your first year of your bachelor's degree in order to continue to the next year of your course.

The number of credits required to pass the first year varies by university. 

You will be introduced to this education style at the International Study Centre so you know exactly what to expect when you start university.

About Dutch universities

There are two types of institutions in Holland: research universities and universities of applied sciences. The type of university you choose depends on whether you want to prepare for a specific profession or you want a broader, theory-based degree.

Research universities offer a theoretical, academic education that teaches you skills that you can apply across a range of professions. Research activity is also a key factor in global university rankings. At a research university you can expect: 

  • Research-focused courses
  • Three-year degrees
  • Theoretical learning
  • Broad focus on a specific subject
  • More academic
  • Fewer contact hours
  • More independent study

Universities of applied sciences offer a more vocational education, known as higher professional education. They are a good choice if you already know what career you are interested in. At a university of applied sciences you can expect:

  • Career-focused, professional courses
  • Three or four-year degrees (all progression degrees from the Holland International Study Centre are three years)
  • Practical
  • Relevant to specific profession
  • Work experience with most degrees (usually one year)
  • More contact hours
  • Smaller classes and group work

Work in Holland after you graduate

International students can take advantage of the Orientation Year after they graduate. This means you can apply for jobs in Holland. Find out more about working in Holland after studying.

Learning in Holland

Ting from Taiwan

The education quality is really nice and the tuition fees are way lower than the States, so, I made the decision of coming here.

International experience here is pretty amazing because the class is pretty small. You really get to know every person.

Ting from Taiwan
Studied International Foundation Year in Business and Management
Now studying BSc Economics at Tilburg University

85,955 international students

in Holland 2018-19 (NUFFIC)