Why should I study in the Netherlands?

Through the centuries the Netherlands has been a country of international trade and cooperation. Its people are said to be amongst the happiest on earth...

How to Study in the Netherlands

The Dutch border touches Belgium and Germany to the South and East respectively as well as the North Sea. This founding member of the European Union is probably best known for its vast system of cycle lanes running through the entire country – as well as its tulip fields and windmills!

The Netherlands' Higher Education System

The Dutch higher education system is structured in a binary system. You can choose between two types of education: research-oriented education focusing research, offered by universities - and higher professional education focussing professional practice, offered by universities of applied sciences. In addition, there is a third branch, called institutes for international education, designed mainly for international students.

Due to the reforms of Bologna, the Dutch higher education system is based on the bachelor’s-master’s degree structure. At both, research universities and universities of applied sciences, you can award a bachelor's or a master's degree.

The Netherlands' Higher Education System in international comparison

In the following, you will see how Dutch higher education institutions are performing on the institutional level. Based on the 51 dimensions the graphic depicts the national average and represents how many of the Dutch institutions are doing better than the average (receiving an ‘A’ (very good) or ‘B’ (good) score), or below the average (receiving a ‘D’ (below average) or ‘E’ (weak) score).

Teaching & learning, international orientation and regional engagement are particular strengths of the Dutch higher education institutions participating in 51

National performance: The Netherlands

Percent of all Universities 100% 80% 60% 40% < below Average above > 40% 60% 80% 100% Teaching & Learning 25.40983606557377% 55.73770491803279% Research 39.17197452229299% 48.72611464968153% Knowledge Transfer 53.35820895522388% 39.17910447761194% International Orientation 8.13953488372093% 77.90697674418605% Regional Engagement 20.967741935483872% 58.064516129032256%

How much does it cost to study in the Netherlands?

Tuition fees in the Netherlands are determined by the national law. All students studying full-time pay study fees of € 2,060 per (study) year. The fees for part-time or dual studies vary between 1,030 € and 2,060 € per year depending on the university.

All EU/EEA-citizens, Swiss and Surinam citizens are entitled to take a tuition fee loan from the Dutch Government of up to the statutory fee. This is 2,087 € for 2019/2020.

A comparison specifically aimed at UK students interested in studying in the Netherlands is available .  For Non-EU students, the average tuition fee for an undergraduate degree is between 6,000 € and 15,000 €, for a graduate degree between 8,000 € and 20,000 €.

Addition of information on fees and financial support

Reference year(s): 2020/2021


In this section we highlight the fees for studying in the Netherlands. The fees are shown in the national currency and address all fee types: tuition, enrolment (part- or full-time, etc.), certification, or other administrative costs. Students that are exempt from fees are also described, as well as information on international student fees if they differ.

  • Fees are determined centrally (EUR 2,143 in 2020/21) and have to be paid by first-cycle (bachelor’s degree) and second-cycle (master’s degree) students. The fee covers tuition, registration, admission, examination, certification, etc.
  • Tuition fees for the first year of higher education (two years in initial teacher education courses) – EUR 1,071 instead of EUR 2,143 in 2020/21. Conditions for the reduced tuition fee are that the student is entering Dutch higher education for the first time and that the statutory fee applies to him/her. The halved fee will also apply to a master’s degree in teaching in 2021/22 and beyond.
  • Fees for a subsequent first- or second-cycle degree are determined by higher education institutions.The fees in universities of applied sciences are on average between EUR 6,500 and 7,000, while in university bachelor’s degree fees are on average EUR 8,000, with a maximum of EUR 32,000 for medicine. The amount for a second university master’s is about EUR 12,000, but may amount to EUR 32,000 for some programmes. 
  • Short-cycle programmes leading to ‘associate degree’ are offered by universities of applied sciences. The fee for these programmes is the same as for first-cycle programmes.
  • International students – those from outside the EEA, Surinam or Switzerland – pay nonstatutory fees determined by the higher education institutions without any guidelines from the Ministry.

Source: Eurydice - 

Financial Support

In this section we highlight the financial support system implemented in the Netherlands. The types of support covered in this section include: grants, loans, tax benefits for students' parents (or students themselves) and family allowances.  How these terms are defined, are outlined below:

  • Grants are provided in the national currency and are differentiated between merit-based and need-based (or universal, where applicable). All main public financial support that does not need to be paid back is included, with the exception of grants for study abroad (i.e. mobility grants). Information is also presented on the proportion of students (in the short, first and second cycle) who receive grants.
  • Loans: information focuses on the existence of a student publicly-subsidised loan system and the percentage of students that take out a loan. Information on the interest rate and modalities for the repayment of loans may also be provided.
  • Tax benefit is any tax relief that is granted to parents whose child is a higher education student or to students themselves. The information aims to cover the amount of the tax relief, how it can be claimed and who is eligible to apply.
  • Family allowances for students' parents: this part provides information on their amount and the eligible population.
  • Depending on parental income, a need-based grant, provided by the Dutch state, is available to a maximum of EUR 403.17 per month (EUR 4,838.04 per year) (for students who start their studies before the age of 30). Short-, first- and second-cycle full-time students are eligible. This does not need to be repaid if the student graduates within 10 years. In 2017/18, all students with a need-based grant, which was awarded to 31% of students, received an annual amount of ca. EUR 4 838.04. Students whose studies are delayed due to medical conditions have a right to an extra year of student finance.
  • Two loans are available: one to cover living costs, with a maximum of EUR 897.65 per month, and the other of EUR 178.58 per month to cover tuition fees (September 2020). National students and EEA-students that start their full-time studies before the age of 30 are eligible for these loans.
  • Students enrolled in universities of applied sciences or research universities can receive a total amount of EUR 1,076.14 per month. This amount includes both grants and loans (for students who receive grants, the loan may be reduced if the overall support exceeds the above amount).
  • Students can take out state loans from the starting date of their studies during the normal study period and, in cases where study is delayed, for a further three years. The loan repayment period is 35 years. The amount to be repaid per month depends on the size of the loan, personal income and interest rates (0.0% in 2018). When income is below the minimum wage, no loan repayments are required. After 35 years, outstanding debt is waived. It is also possible to reduce payments when income decreases by at least 15%. In 2016/17, 50% of students received loans.
  • In order to encourage lifelong learning, everyone under 55 can apply for a study loan to pay their tuition fees.
  • There are tax benefits for students with an income. This is called the Student and pupil scheme. An employer can apply this scheme. In these cases, lower or no payroll tax is deducted from wages.
  • No family allowances are in place.

How to get a Scholarship in the Netherlands?

No matter the reason, paying high tuition fees can be a source of stress for many. However, there are many options for financing your studies, including the use of scholarships. There are various scholarship opportunities available for international students looking to study in the Netherlands. Depending on your country of origin and the level of studies, there are different options for funding. To explore what scholarship options are available, check this .

What are the entry requirements for Dutch universities?

In general, anyone who successfully passed their domestic university entrance exam is entitled to study at a Dutch university. There are, however, exceptions for some courses/subjects, and a ‘Numerus Fixus’ applies. Universities publish these on their own websites. As yet, the Numerus Fixus does not apply to most courses/subject taught in English.

Do I need a Student Visa for the Netherlands?

In general, you will need to meet the following conditions: You need to have a valid passport and you need to provide a signed antecedent’s certificate. All students from non-exempt nationalities must pass a tuberculosis test. Moreover, you must have (provisionally) been accepted at a university or university of applied sciences as a student to a full-time accredited day programme. This university or university of applied sciences is a recognised sponsor. Recognised educational institutions are listed in the Public Register of Recognised Sponsors. As an important point, you have to give evidence of sufficient funds for the period of study. While studying, you need to achieve at minimum 50% of the compulsory credits for each academic year.


How do Dutch Universities fare in 51?

  1. In its 2022 edition, 51 presents data on 52 Dutch higher education institutions: universities, universities of applied sciences, and specialised institutions (e.g., in arts).
  2. In a globally comparative perspective, Dutch higher education institutions show a strong performance in the dimensions of International Orientation (with 79% of all indicator scores ranked above average, i.e., into groups ‘A’ or ‘B’), and Teaching and Learning (57%).
  3. In total, twelve Dutch universities reached more than ten top group positions (‘A’ scores). Among them are Eindhoven University of Technology (18), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (17), University of Groningen (16), Delft University of Technology (16), and University of Twente (16).
  4. Most of these universities received their top positions in the dimensions Research, Knowledge Transfer, and, to a smaller degree, International Orientation.

Here you can find the current Dutch country report.

The Netherlands' Higher Education Performance in 51

Where to study in The Netherlands

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