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THE Netherlands: Applying to University - Must read

Applying to study in the Netherlands for Singaporeans

Our guide to applying to study in the Netherlands for Singaporeans.

Study in Holland

It is not surprising that nearly 90,000 international students are currently studying in the Netherlands, since it hosts 11 higher education institutions that are amongst the top 200 on the globe. However, the education system is quite unique in Europe’s most densely populated country, so applying to study at a university could be rather mind-boggling. Here’s a brief guideline, which you may find useful to get you through the process:



There are 2 types of higher education institutions in the Netherlands; either academic or more professionally-oriented programmes. Both types of institutions offer Bachelor’s and Master’s qualifications. Click here to find out about the education system in the Netherlands.


Students should conduct their research as early as possible, some even recommend a year in advance, in order to familiarize themselves with the available options before deciding what sort of institution would suit them the best.


More popular course options could get very competitive, hence students are allocated via the government’s Numerus Fixus system which would usually prioritise academic achievements.  However, most courses taught in English are not subject to the Numerus Fixus system, apart from Medicine, Physiotherapy, Psychology and Economics.


The best is to contact the university’s admissions office to find out what is their specific procedure for international students.



Universities might have varying admission dates, but in general, applications tend to open a year ahead in advance, so it would typically be September for the following September for the first semester. Most institutions have 2 intakes, with the second one in February. Numerus Fixus places are awarded at the same time, usually in mid-May for a start in September in the same year.


Non-EU students should ideally apply by Mar-May for the first semester and Nov-Dec for the second one, but institutions would accept applications even before the submission dates especially in the applied sciences field.


Undergraduate (First Cycle)

Undergraduate students are required to create a profile on a new students admissions system called Studielink. This platform allows them to search for specific information regarding programme requirements, upload documents and data, and monitor the progress of their application. Students are strongly advised to inform their host institutions they are submitting an application,a s well as to double check the entry requirements.


Postgraduate (Second and Third Cycles)

Students are required to submit their applications directly to the universities. Entry into graduate programmes are very specific, so students who do not meet the expected requirements may be asked to complete foundation or preparatory courses beforehand. The institutions may provide a conditional offer letter up to a year in advance, which would give the student time to do so. Once completed and achieved expected grades, the offer ten becomes official.



Students will need their secondary school transcripts to qualify for the Bachelor’s programme, or may obtain a Dutch Diploma, which will be automatically recognised by the institutions.


The specific requirements may vary across institutions but students will need to submit their personal details such as a photocopy of their passport ID page. Postgraduate applications will also require a CV as well as a letters of recommendation from a current or previous professor and a personal statement. You may also need to provide proof of English proficiency, especially at postgraduate level which requires a minimum 550 points for paper-based TOEFL, 213 points for computer-based and a minimum 6 points for IELTS.


Once you have your offer letter, you will need to process your student visa. Click here to find out more.



The Dutch admissions officers go through thousands of applications, so try your best to make yours stand out in a positive way. If you have work experience or have taken part in extra-curricular activities that would further enhance your application, do mention them as part of your submission, but take note that you should be using persuasive and direct language, without being too pushy. Dutch culture prioritises forward-thinking and taking initiative, so be as clear as possible on how you plan to engage with the course you have chosen. If you can, get your friends or seniors to read through your application first to see how you could further improve on it before submitting to the university.


For more information about studying in the Netherlands, check out



Hotcourses.com.sg wishes you all the very best!

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