Although small in size, Holland has a rich cultural tradition. For centuries, the country has had an attitude of openness towards the rest of the world. In business, but also in social life. In addition, the Dutch language is spoken in many places around the world.
Holland, or the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is a kingdom. Its official name is the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It consists of the Netherlands itself and six islands in the Caribbean Sea. The country's name in Dutch is Nederland, meaning low country and referring to the fact that much of the land is at or below sea level.
The Netherlands is often called 'Holland', a name that is derived from the names of the two western coastal provinces, North and South Holland, that were the most developed and wealthiest parts of the country in the seventeenth century and played a dominant role in the country's history.
Holland is situated in the west of Europe and borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south and the North Sea to the north and west. What strikes people most when they first arrive in Holland is the landscape: the country is extremely flat. While there are some hilly areas in the south-eastern corner of the country, in most of the country you have an unbroken view of the characteristic Dutch landscape. There is water everywhere, in the form of lakes, rivers and canals. Holland is a relatively small area of slightly over 41,000 square kilometres is home to almost 17 million people.
Dutch society is home to more than 190 different nationalities living in its many cities and villages. For decades the country's historical ties with other parts of the world have brought people of non-Dutch origin to settle in Holland. This cultural diversity has made Holland a place where knowledge, ideas and cultures from all over the world come together. Although Dutch is the national language, the majority of the population also speaks English and very often another foreign language, such as German or French.
Holland is a safe country by international standards, with low levels of violence and street crime. The police are friendly and helpful; they have a duty to protect everyone and you can always feel confident approaching them for help.
Culture & leisure
Holland is more varied than you might expect. There is plenty to see, whether you're strolling through town, making a boat trip on the canals or lakes, lazing on the beach or walking in the woods and dunes. Major international stars regularly play concerts at Dutch stadiums and other smaller venues. Musicals and theatre are also very popular. With over 1,000 museums there is a lot to discover. And don't be surprised to see people dressed in orange and partying in the street on King's Day or when the national football team has a game.
Students at work in library. Photographer: nadiafotografeert
Students. Photographer: Arenda Oomen
Students at work. Photographer: nadiafotografeert
Students working on project. Photographer: Erik Jansen
PhD ceremony. Photographer: Keukelaar, Keke
Unilever building Rotterdam. Photographer: Tuurenhout, Thijs
International students on a trip to Paris. Photographer: Indarwati Aminuddin
Typical Dutch houses. Photographer: Tuurenhout, Thijs
Schiphol Airport. Photographer: Elma Leidekker
Yellow tulip field. Photographer: Henriëtte Guest
Dutch landscape. Photographer: Tuurenhout, Thijs
Queens Day. Source: NL Agency
Higher education institutions are spread throughout the country. The buildings of a single university might even be scattered throughout a city and only some institutions have campuses.
Nevertheless, the institutions do have a real student culture. Each institution has a network of associations that bring students together for academic activities, sports and recreation. Most of these associations are run by students, and some of them are internationally oriented.
This small country lies at the point where the German, British and French cultures meet. Once you have arrived in Holland, you will discover that many European capitals are within easy reach. Brussels is two hours by train, and a short flight from Amsterdam will take you to Paris, Madrid or Berlin.
The Dutch higher education institutions are an ideal starting point for (study) tours and exchanges in other European countries.
Your daily expenses include food, public transport, books, clothes, and cinema tickets. But you also need to take into account the costs for housing and insurance. Experience has shown that students living and studying in Holland for one year spend between €800 and €1,100 a month. Some average prices: a cup of coffee/tea in a café: €2, a cheese sandwich: €3, dinner in a typical student restaurant: €10. Most supermarkets offer a variety of brands. It is worth comparing the prices to find the cheapest option.
In your spare time, it is great to see more from Holland than just the city where you are studying. A great website to find everything you want to know about Holland is www.holland.com.
If you are taking part in an exchange programme or are enrolled in an international course, it is quite possible that a room will be arranged for you. Accept it immediately, or you might regret it later. Finding a place to live in a country as crowded as Holland is not easy. It is difficult even for Dutch students to find rented rooms on the private market. Rooms are generally unfurnished, and kitchens and bathrooms are often shared with others. Most rental contracts are for a period of at least six months or a year. Before you leave your own country, ask your host institution whether or not housing will be arranged for you in advance. Depending on where you are staying, an average room in Holland costs somewhere between € 250 to € 600 a month.
Your daily expenses include food, public transport, books, clothes, and going out. But you also need to take into account the costs for housing and insurance. Experience has shown that students living and studying in Holland for one year spend between 800 and 1,100 Euros a month. Many bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas and some large retail stores give discounts to students.
Visas and permits
To enter Holland and stay in the country for study purposes, nationals from most countries need a visa and/or a residence permit. What you need depends on your nationality and the period you want to stay. You may need:
If you are a student from outside the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and you would like to stay in Holland for more than three months, you are obliged to obtain a residence permit.
If you are a national from the EU,EEA or Switzerland, you do not need an entry visa or residence permit. You are free to study or work in the Netherlands.
Student visa wizard
To find out which procedure applies to you, we advise you to fill in the student visa wizard.
When preparing your stay in Holland, it is very important to ensure that you will be properly insured during your stay. By law, it is mandatory to have health insurance, but it is also recommended to take out a liability insurance.
Working alongside your studies
As a student, a little extra money is always welcome. International students who would like to work alongside their studies may need a work permit. If you want to work as well as study and you are a national from outside the EU, the EEA or Switzerland, your employer must apply for a work permit. You have two options for working during your studies:
If you are a student from the EU/EEA/Switzerland, you do not need a work permit and are free to work as many hours as you like. For Croatians other rules apply, please check: www.studyinholland.nl.
Research is an important feature of Dutch higher education. Especially in bachelors and masters programmes offered by research universities, students are provided with the skills and knowledge for doing academic research. The universities of applied sciences have a stronger focus on the practical application of science.
Dutch scientists have a great reputation when compared to the rest of the world. Holland takes a second place with the number of publications per researcher and a fourth place on the citation impact scores. The Times Higher Education Supplement even ranks twelve universities in Holland among the top 200 in the world.
In Holland, PhD degrees are only offered by research universities. PhD candidates in Holland are regarded as professional researchers rather than as students. The fact that the majority of the PhD candidates is employed, strengthens their status of professional researcher.
In Holland, there are three types of PhD positions. All research universities award PhD degrees based on vacancies and the PhD candidate is either: employed by the institution, brings funding with him/her, such as a fellowship or grant, or is funded by his/her external employer.
Once you have finished your studies in the Netherlands and have received a Dutch diploma, you are ready to start your international career. The Dutch education system educates students to analyse and solve practical problems independently through emphasis on self-study and self-discipline and prepares students for their career after their studies. Research shows that people who have studied at a Dutch higher education institution perform very well in other parts of the world.
The Dutch government has expressed its ambition to belong to the global top five of knowledge economies and welcomes international knowledge workers and talent from abroad. Therefore, international students have the opportunity to spend a period of up to one year to find a job or start a company after finishing their studies. This is called the orientation year (also known as a search year). Within 3 years of completing an accredited Bachelor's or Master's programme or a PhD, highly skills migrants can apply for this residence permit.
Read more about the orientation year (search year)
In terms of finding work, international students can join the Holland Alumni network that offers a valuable source of information about job opportunities and networking and career events.
If you are thinking about starting a career in the Netherlands, the Career in Holland pages will give you all you need to know about career opportunities after your studies.
Holland stands out for its great inventiveness, its problem-solving attitude and its openness to the world. Studying in Holland offers you the space to be a pioneer, be creative and get connected.
The more than 2,100 English-taught study programmes and courses cover a broad range of fields. All programmes and courses lead to a bachelors, masters or PhD degree, a diploma or certificate.
Quality of higher education
Higher education in Holland has a worldwide reputation for its high quality. This quality is guaranteed through a national system of regulation and quality assurance. Dutch law (the Higher Education and Research Act) states that degree programmes offered by higher education institutions must be evaluated against a specific set of criteria, assessing the content and the level of the course. Bachelor’s and master’s programmes that meet the criteria are accredited (i.e. officially recognized).
In 2015, there were twelve Dutch universities in the top 200 of the Times Higher Education World University Ranking, making the Netherlands the fourth best represented country on the prestigious list.
Holland has proven to be a true pioneer for discovering inventive solutions to everyday problems. The way the Dutch created a large part of the country by reclaiming land from the sea shows their pragmatic approach to living below sea level.
We can also see this approach when it comes to education. For a small country like Holland, an international orientation - extending into education and training - is a must to be a successful competitor in our increasingly internationalized world. Holland was also the first non-English speaking country to offer courses taught in English.
The important role of the Dutch in the international design industry is a reflection of their creative drive. The creative sector in Holland is world famous for its innovative ideas and ground-breaking Dutch Design. It is perhaps because of the Dutch way of teaching that creativity has acclaimed such an important role in Dutch society. Students are challenged to solve problems with an out-of-the-box approach and work together in case studies to gather and share knowledge.
Being a small country, Holland is open to the world and to surrounding countries. Cooperating with other countries is key to being successful for the Dutch. The strong connection between Dutch higher education institutions and the business world creates possibilities for practical assignments and internships to prepare students for a career in an international environment.
The Dutch education system is interactive, student-centred and focused on teamwork, which makes it easy to meet other international students. The teaching method at Dutch higher education institutions is founded on respect for each individuals opinions and convictions. This respect is a national virtue that characterizes Holland's diverse and plural society. The method aims to provide students with both the attention and freedom they need to develop their own opinions and creativity in applying new knowledge.
Step by step: How to apply to a Dutch institution.
The Dutch have a saying : "A good preparation is half the work". Meaning that once you have prepared yourself for what is about to come, the rest will follow easily.
When you have made the decision to go study in Holland, you will need to prepare for your stay. You will have to decide what to study and where, you will have to apply to an institution, finance your studies, look for a place to live and so on. The step-by-step checklist will help you determine what to do when and where.
Read the full checklist here
Holland offers more than 2,100 study programmes and courses taught in English. Examine the available study programmes on this website or on www.studyfinder.nl.
Step 2: Check accreditation and institution
Check whether the programme of your choice is accredited by the NVAO (Accreditation Organization of The Netherlands and Flanders) or by another organisation. Accreditation is an important indication of the programmes quality. Check if the institution of your choice has signed the Code of Conduct. By signing the Code of Conduct, the institution offers students a guarantee of the quality of their programmes, student recruitment, selection and counselling procedures. Visit www.internationalstudy.nl to find a list of institutions that have signed the Code of Conduct.
If you cannot rely on your own funds for studying, you can look for scholarships and find out if you are eligible. On the Scholarshipportal or www.grantfinder.nl you can find an overview of scholarships available for students who wish to come to Holland. You can also contact the Dutch Embassy in your home country or your institution's international relations office.
If the programme is suitable and you meet the requirements, follow the institutions procedure for admission. Follow the directions of the institution on how to apply. Often this information is listed on the course website of the institution.
Check which immigration regulations apply to you. It may take up to six months from collecting the required documents to receiving your actual visa (if needed). You can find out which rules apply to you in the Student Visa Wizard. Gather all the relevant documents required by the Dutch immigration authorities. If you need an entry visa (MVV), your host institution must arrange it on your behalf. Find out which documents you need in the Student Visa Wizard.
Once you arrive in Holland, you will need a place to live. Finding housing can be difficult, make sure you start looking as soon as possible. Don't forget to ask your host institution for help in arranging a place for you to live. Your institution should be able to provide you with more information about housing.
All students in Holland are obliged to have health insurance. There are several options for you to arrange this. Check the information and regulations about health insurances to find out how you can arrange your insurance.
And finally: Enjoy your time in Holland as a student!
You can find more information on: www.studyinholland.nl
The education system
The education system in Holland is known for its high quality in education and research and its international study environment. In addition, with more than 2,100 international study programmes and courses it has the largest offer of continental Europe.
Holland has two main types of higher education institutions: research universities and universities of applied sciences.
The research universities in Holland educate students in academic study and research. Universities of applied sciences offer professional programmes in the applied arts and sciences that prepare students for specific careers. A third and smaller branch of higher education is provided by institutes for international education, which offer advanced training and courses in a wide range of fields. Most of these institutes are part of a research university.
Preparation courses in Holland
Some international students may not be able to attend a degree in Holland because their previous studies do not match the academic system of the country. To be allowed to take an undergraduate or graduate degree in Holland, they will need to enrol in a one-year pre-Bachelor or pre-Master offered by a local university.
Popular foundation degree studies in Holland include pre-law degrees, pre-MBA courses, pre-medicine, pre-nursing studies, or other types of international foundation programmes in engineering, economics, finance, social science, science and other types of university pathway programmes. Preparation courses in Holland include academic English language training to help international students meet university language requirements for future undergraduate or graduate studies.
Foundation degrees in early years in Holland are perfect for increasing your chances of getting accepted to a Dutch university. Pre-university business schools, law schools or med schools make sure international students develop the skills they need to succeed in the Dutch academic system. Pre-university education also includes cultural integration classes that help students feel more at home. Some pre-university programmes guarantee enrolment to the institution if students complete the preparation with high grades.
Where can I study a foundation course in Holland?
The top Dutch cities where students can take a foundation year programme include: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Maastricht and more.