The Netherlands offers international students a wide variety of degree courses, most of them available in English, and an international academic environment. These are just some of the reasons why the Netherlands has counted over 90,000 international students in the last two years, according to Nuffic (The Organisation of international education in Netherlands).
There are two main types of regular higher education institutions in The Netherlands which are widely known as research universities and universities of applied sciences (Hogeschool, in Dutch). Meanwhile, a smaller branch of education is provided by institutes for international education, which offer programmes designed especially for foreign students.
Apart from the two main public university types, you can also find a limited number of private universities in the Netherlands. Most of them offer specialised degree courses in a certain field and they charge higher tuition than public universities.
1. Research Universities
Following the Bologna system, undergraduate degrees in research universities from the Netherlands last three years and Master's programmes will last two years. Research universities include more rigorous education ad coursework that focuses on specific subjects.
In most research universities, you can find English-taught Bachelor's and Master's degrees.
Undergraduate degrees at Research Universities typically take three years to complete and usually do not include work experience. There are 13 Research Universities in the Netherlands and 12 of them teach Bachelor's degrees in the English language.
There are eighteen research universities in The Netherlands that offer international programmes and courses. The majority of these are government-funded. These institutions essentially train students in academic study and the application of knowledge, although many study programmes do also have a professional component and most graduates actually find work outside the research community.
Here is the list of some research universities in the Netherlands:
- Maastricht University
- Tilburg University
- University of Groningen
- University of Twente
- Utrecht University
- Eindhoven University of Technology
- Erasmus University Rotterdam
The study programmes offered by universities of applied sciences are usually more career oriented and specialise in a particular area of study. Compared to research universities, they offer small class sizes and the programme structure is quite fixed. Although some include a few research activities, universities of applied sciences focus almost entirely on teaching.
2. Universities of Applied Sciences
Undergraduate degrees at universities of applied sciences can last three or four years, will always include a work placement and some programmes offer the opportunity of exchange study abroad programmes.
Universities of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands include:
- Fontys University of Applied Sciences
- HAN University of Applied Sciences
- Rotterdam University, University of Applied Sciences
- Saxion University of Applied Sciences
- Stenden University of Applied Sciences
- The Hague University of Applied Sciences
- Avans University of Applied Sciences
3. Institutes for International Education
The Netherlands has been offering another form of higher education for more than 50 years: advanced courses taught in English in what is known as international education.
These institutes offer development-oriented courses, focused on the exchange of knowledge in a setting of small, intercultural groups. They are facilitated by teachers with extensive experience in working in developing countries. Most of these are part of a research university.
There are six large IE institutes that offer various types of study programmes including short courses, Master's programmes and sometimes PhD degrees.
Here is a list of some Institutes for International Education in the Netherlands:
- Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam)
- Institute of Social Studies (part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam)
- International Institute for Geo-Information, Science and Earth Observation (part of the University of Twente)
- Royal Tropical Institute
- UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education
4. University colleges
Some of the Dutch universities have integrated colleges of higher education that offer undergraduate study programmes that last three years, just like Bachelor's degrees. Unlike universities, colleges offer a Liberal Arts style of education.
This means students will learn general knowledge from several subjects and they are especially dedicated to those who haven’t decided on which field they should focus their studies later on at graduate level. Here is a list of some of the university colleges in the Netherlands:
- Amsterdam University College
- University College Maastricht
- University College Tilburg
- University College Utrecht
- University College Roosevelt
- Degrees offered by different institutions
The table below gives an overview of the different degrees offered by these different types of institutions.