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Student Life in the Netherlands

A crisp read about the student life at the land that gave us van Gogh.

Antony Chacko

The Utrecht University was founded in 1636 and is one of the oldest and largest Universities in Europe. The University is rated to be among the top 50 best Universities in the world.

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The Netherlands or Holland as it is sometimes referred to, attracts close to 80000 international students every year, all thanks to the country’s rich cultural heritage and professional educational institutions. Most students and tourists claim that Amsterdam is a truly international city as opposed to most other European cities. The reason is because English is widely spoken amongst locals who are a very welcoming and friendly lot. The Country’s capital, Amsterdam, comes in second in the Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities for the year 2013, making it one of the world’s most favourite destinations for tourists. Most of the country’s major cities still have several officially recognised historical buildings that contribute to its rich cultural character. The Netherlands also embraces modern development and technology, making it one of the few places on the planet to enjoy the best of both worlds. 
The Netherlands boasts of some of the oldest universities in the world, some of which date back to the 15th century. However, judging from past experience, we see that Dutch institutions are not exactly your ‘go to place’ for education amongst Indian Students. A survey was conducted by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, which found that there were only about 162 Indian students in the Netherlands in 2005, out of more than 139,000 who chose other countries for their higher studies. These reasons may be due to a very misinformed notion of an assumed language barrier in, not just the Netherlands, but most other European nations. However this assumption will remain incorrect as most universities in the Netherlands cater to a wide English speaking international audience, with several of their courses being conducted in English. 

Holland’s Finest:

Let us take a look at some of the best institutions the country has to offer.

University of Amsterdam:

The QS World University Rankings, in 2011, ranked the University of Amsterdam 63rd in the world, 19th in Europe and first in the Netherlands. The University has educated six Nobel Prize winners and several other members who have made significant ground-breaking contributions in many different fields. UvA is known to make their international students feel at home, and has several International Student counselling associations that are second to none. 

Leiden University:

Founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange, Leiden University boasts of educating several members of the Dutch Royal Family. Leiden attracted many students on account of its intellectual tolerance, a trait that was considerably uncommon during the early 20th century. The University has its fair share of a star- studded alumni including; 10 leaders and Dutch Prime Ministers; eight foreign leaders, including John Quincy Adams, President of the United States; two Secretary Generals of NATO; and 16 Nobel Prize winners including Albert Einstein.

Utrecht University:

Utrecht University was founded in 1636 and is one of the oldest and largest universities in Europe. The University has been consistent in earning competitive positions amongst several ranking systems. The Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked Utrecht in the Top 50 for six consecutive years amongst other universities all over the globe.

Student Life:

It would only take a day on Dutch soil for one to learn that the average local is very tolerant of other world cultures. Amsterdam,’ the world’s city’, where 45% of the population is non-Dutch, teaches the rest of the world the valuable lesson of cultural acceptance. It wouldn’t go unnoticed to tourists, that Dutch people although true to their own traditional values, are very accepting and tolerant of other cultures. A quick tour around the city of Amsterdam and one would find every restaurant dedicated to a different world cuisine. From American, to Italian, to Thai food, there is a restaurant to suit every palate.  


Most Dutch Universities have student accommodation on campus, but allotment works on a first-come first-serve basis. However, there are several accommodation options for students off campus as well. The most common accommodation type is shared, where about four or five students share an apartment or house and usually costs about €200 to €400 per person. Finding accommodation is also pretty simple as most Dutch universities have international student offices to help international students find accommodation. Once you do find suitable accommodation however, you would need to register your address with the local authorities.
Here are a few websites that are helpful in assisting international students in finding suitable accommodation:

Visa Procedure:

There are two ways in which a student can attain a student visa in the Netherlands.

Procedure 1 - University applies for the Visa:

  1. Student gains acceptance into a University and pays all necessary tuition fees to the University
  2. The University then fills in the visa application form (MVV form) on behalf of the student submits the same to the Dutch Immigration office.
  3. Students are now required to scan copies of all documents such as educational certificates and passport.
  4. A conditional offer letter is received from the University.

Procedure 2 – Student applies for the Visa:

  1. Students have to directly approach the Dutch embassy in their country and apply for their visa.
  2. In order to apply for a student visa at the embassy, students need to provide the following documents:
  • Proof of Accommodation
  • Or proof of sufficient funds for allotted by the student for accommodation
  • IELTS Certificate
  • 5 Passport sized photography (With a white background)

Other Information:

  • Students are allowed to work 10 hours a week while studying and full-time during vacation.
  • Students usually receive their visa approvals within four weeks.
So if you are in the market of pursuing a higher education, and looking for a place where you can enjoy rich cultural heritage on a lazy afternoon at some of the best universities in the world, then look no further. The Netherlands is a suitable supplier of that sweet balance.
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