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THE Netherlands: Destination Guides - Must read

Why study in the Netherlands?

Why should you study in the Netherlands? Learn why so many international students are opting to go orange


Packed with wall-to-wall, tall old townhouses that line what feels like endless canals, the rustic charm of cities in the Netherlands is enough of an excuse in itself to make it your study destination of choice. But aside from being easy on the eyes, the Netherlands has a number of key strengths that truly set it apart as a top place to live, study, or even start up your graduate career. So, why should you study abroad in the Netherlands? Read on to find out.

Quality of Life

One look down a canal-lined street in any Dutch city is enough to explain why the nation consistently boasts such high scores in international quality of life surveys. Named the fourth happiest nation on earth in a 2013 OECD survey, the Dutch were also recently named the world’s most satisfied people, taking into account factors such as work-life balance, personal relationship, free time, money and home life. Considering the nation’s socially progressive and tolerant reputation, this can’t come as much of a surprise.

If that weren’t enough, the Dutch have also recently been named the world’s healthiest people, and ranked first in an Oxfam survey measuring best access to nutritious, plentiful food. But it’s not just the availability of good food that makes the Dutch so healthy, it’s their attitude towards eating and lifestyle.  A traditional Dutch diet favours high intake of vegetables, fruit, dairy products and potatoes: a recipe that when working in conjunction with a soft-spot for cycling is no doubt responsible for the nation’s low diabetes and obesity rates.

Gateway to Europe

The Dutch are also spoiled in their unique location in northern Europe. As well as making it easy to travel around the continent on weekends or during holiday breaks, the Netherlands is a key hub of international trade and ties both within and outside of the EU.

For one, the port of Rotterdam is Europe’s biggest seaport, and at a cool 90.1 million tons handles more cargo than Antwerp, Bremen and Hamburg put together. Often called the ‘gateway to Europe,’ Amsterdam is located within the best-equipped logistics triangle of mainland Europe, with Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport Europe’s third largest cargo airport.

Noted for its highly open economy and active in international trade, the Netherlands has been predicted to remain one of the world’s top trading nations across the next five years: great news for graduates of Logistics and Transportation, International Relations and Business (not to mention those in fields specific to one of the nation’s many booming industries, particularly Agriculture) looking to kick-start their career in the Netherlands.

Dutch innovation

It may be small and densely packed, but the Netherlands is renowned for its forward thinking, creative and innovative culture. Ranking fourth in the 2013 Global Innovation index, over the years the Dutch have come up with some great ideas including the stock exchange, telescope, submarine, chocolate bar, compact disc and electrocardiograph (ECG). Not to mention a spate of modern technological gems such as glow in the dark roads and Blendle, a new pay-per-share news platform that has been called ‘the iTunes of the news industry.’

Dutch institutions also particularly shine when it comes to applied, technical programmes such as Engineering that teach the skills you’ll need to turn your ideas into reality. Delft University ranks 19th globally for Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering and 37th for Electrical and Electronic Engineering, with Eindhoven University of Technology within the top 100 in both categories. Whether you’re a technology fiend, creative whiz or simply bursting with ideas you can’t wait to bring to fruition, the resources at your fingertips will leave you wanting for nothing.

Student-centred learning  

At a Dutch university, the teaching style is student-centred, with key focus on teamwork and interactivity between students and teachers. You’ll be encouraged, or even expected to be able to formulate your own opinion, share it and in turn engage with opinions ventured by others. Whilst teamwork is valued as a key learning tool, you’ll be first and foremost taught to manage your own academic progress and show initiative in following course content. Student-teacher relations are typically quite informal, and you will always be encouraged to ask questions in class or even follow up with a particular professor on your own.

Unlike those in many other nations, academic culture in the Netherlands does not consider competition between students to be important. In fact, ranking students in a class is not commonly done, and students’ work is based solely on its own merit on a scale of 1-10 as opposed to on a bell curve against other grades within a given cohort. You’ll have enough freedom to exercise creativity and develop a critical mind frame without the direct pressure of competition and a harsh grading scale, whilst having access to enough resources and attention to manage and maintain strong academic progress.


Feeling inspired to ‘go orange’ and discover life in the Netherlands for yourself? Browse courses in the Netherlands now and get your plans to study abroad going!

Useful Links

3 Fields to study in the Netherlands

Cultural misconceptions about the Netherlands

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About Author

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.