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University of Groningen

Netherlands Netherlands

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THE World Ranking: 75

Overview

Overview

The University of Groningen is in northern Holland. It was founded nearly 400 years ago, and it’s now one of the oldest and largest universities in the Netherlands. It’s also internationally recognised for its teaching quality, high standards and important research efforts (some of the best research in Europe comes out of Groningen).

Groningen gets millions in funding from the EU each year and invests this support back into the student community through scholarships, funding options and prize-winning student-led academic research projects.

Groningen isn’t just one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands, it’s also one of the best and most respected. Courses and programmes are well designed, flexible and innovative. Tutors and lecturers are focused, talented at what they do and, in many cases, award winners. On-campus facilities give students everything they need to succeed, including three libraries and a very useful SmartCat online library system.

The focus at Groningen is on leadership and teamwork. The university welcomes students from all backgrounds, including international students, and since classes create peer connections very well, these students soon settle in and feel at home in the Netherlands. English is spoken everywhere on campus, but the university does encourage international applicants to brush up on their Dutch to get the most out of student life in Groningen.

The city of Groningen itself is full of history and interesting architecture. There are museums, restaurants and many nightlife experiences for students to try. For a great education in a special setting, it’s hard to find a better option than the University of Groningen. There are over 140,000 alumni of 120 different nationalities. After graduation, students start their professional careers fully prepared for work, and they join a network of successful graduates across the globe.

Teaching Quality

The University of Groningen teaches many undergraduate degrees and has some excellent programmes for postgraduate study, too. It’s a leading research university with a reputation for high-quality teaching recognised across the globe.

There are lots of different programmes available across Groningen’s faculties, and every programme’s teaching quality is extremely high. There’s even a great 10 to one student-to-faculty ratio, so everyone can get the focus and attention they deserve.

Groningen develops young minds into specialists, and many students go on to carry out great research or have successful professional careers. Groningen alumnus (and former senior professor) Ben Feringa won a Nobel Prize for his work on molecular switches in 2016. In 2022, two researchers won EUR 50,000 grants from the Dutch Research Council and an assistant faculty member won the L’Oréal Women in Science Fellowship for her work studying UTIs (urinary tract infections).

One big part of the quality teaching at Groningen is the university’s focus on internationalisation, or welcoming people from every country into the Groningen community. The university is confident that its exciting range of courses and great learning experiences wouldn’t be possible without international students and staff members. The range of research projects would also be limited. Current research themes include:

  • Adaptive life
  • Brain ageing
  • Dynamics of language
  • Facets of cultures (past and present)
  • Human behaviour in a social context
  • Molecular life and health
  • Social networks, solidarity and wellbeing

Entry Requirements

Groningen is one of the top universities in the world, and it has a selective admission process. Generally, university entry requirements include a certain language proficiency level (Dutch or English, depending on the specific course) and a GPA of at least 80 per cent for undergraduate degrees. This means receiving As and Bs during a high school education/the equivalent for an international student.

University requirements for postgraduate study are slightly different, as the focus usually shifts towards research projects and thesis content. Grades are still important, and students will need to have previous university qualifications (usually at least a bachelor’s degree), but an applicant’s thesis/research proposal will also be assessed when they apply.

Some programmes at both levels of study (undergraduate and postgraduate) have specific entry requirements to look out for that are different to the general requirements. Groningen recommends that all potential applicants do plenty of research before deciding on a course, making 100 per cent sure they tick all the required boxes to be considered for admission.

Recognised refugees that qualify for higher education in their home country can be eligible to study for a degree in the Netherlands, too. They have to go through a different application process, but Holland’s civic integration programmes offers them the opportunity to begin their education as soon as they have a residency permit.

English Score Required

Most courses at the University of Groningen are taught and assessed in English. It’s important that every enrolled student has a strong understanding of the language, especially as there is so much focus on teamwork and collaboration with other students at this institution. For international students who don’t speak English as a first language and don’t meet one of a few exceptions, an English proficiency test will be needed for an English course at Groningen.

Lots of test options are accepted, including the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the online Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Cambridge Advanced English test and Dutch VWO diplomas.

To give an example of the kind of English score Groningen is looking for, applicants at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels will need an overall IELTS band score of 6.5, with scores of at least 6 in the writing and speaking bands.

As mentioned briefly above, students who are exempt from taking a test are native English speakers and students who have already completed a degree that was fully taught in English. Also, applicants who have completed three years of secondary or post-secondary education in the USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia or Canada.

Admission

Lots of Holland’s universities are well-respected and selective, and Groningen is one of them. The university’s acceptance rate each year is usually around five per cent. Groningen is looking for students with a history of academic success who can contribute to leading research projects and a hard-working, community-focused learning environment. Admission isn’t a guarantee, it is an honour.

The university admission process at Groningen happens in a few stages. Firstly, a person makes an application (applications are open from October onwards, and all applicants will need a valid passport or European Identity Card) and pays the one-time application fee of EUR 100.

Secondly, they share any supporting documents with the university, like academic transcripts and letters of recommendation (exact document needs will change between courses and levels of study, so applicants should do their own research to find out what applies to them).

Thirdly, an applicant waits for Groningen’s student admission team to make a decision about their application. As mentioned, this is one of the 100 best universities in the world and admission standards are very high.

Fourth and finally, an applicant hears back from Groningen and finds out whether or not they have been accepted. If they have been accepted, they will at this stage need to register for their programme of study. This might take a little longer for international students than it will for Dutch students, as the registration process has a few extra steps.

Scholarships & Funding

One of the best reasons to study at the University of Groningen, beyond the high teaching standards and the excellent ongoing research projects, is the reasonable tuition fees. Fees start at EUR 1,900 annually for EU students and EUR 6,000 annually for students outside of the EU. This is very affordable, especially when applicants remember how well-respected and selective Groningen is.

Plus, to offer funding support and help reduce fees for students who show academic talent/are in financial need, there is a range of university scholarships, awards and bursaries available to domestic and international students. Students can explore all available funding options using the Groningen website’s Grantfinder tool.

One example is the Talent Grant, a two-year postgraduate research scholarship that reduces student tuition fees by 50 per cent. Another example is the Marie Curie Fellowship, which gives students EUR 1,323 monthly to put towards their research, as well as a personal budget of EUR 700 monthly for travel expenses.

Plus, University of Groningen PhD students can get scholarships through the PhD Scholarship Programme, started in 2016 in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and the National PhD Scholarship Programme. To receive a scholarship through the programme, PhD students write a research proposal with the mentorship of an expert supervisor at the university. A few are approved each year to receive the funding their project needs.

University Structure

The University of Groningen offers 45 undergraduate programmes and 120 postgraduate programmes. Most of them are taught in English, and they are all arranged into 11 departments/faculties (although one of the faculties, Campus Fryslân, is actually a dedicated campus that houses a lot of PhD and research programmes):

  • The Faculty of Arts
  • The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences
  • The Faculty of Economics and Business
  • The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
  • The Faculty of Law
  • The Faculty of Medical Sciences
  • The Faculty of Philosophy
  • The Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • The Faculty of Spatial Sciences
  • University College Groningen
  • University of Groningen Campus Fryslân

Groningen’s research facilities are amazing. The university has a lot of research institutes and centres. Through these institutes and centres, students can work with industry professionals and award-winning researchers to develop their practice and increase their employability. There are over 60 institutes in total, including:

  • The Bernoulli Institute for Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
  • The Cancer Research Centre Groningen (CRCG)
  • The Centre for Eastern and Middle Europe Studies (COMES)
  • The Centre for Sustainable Entrepreneurship
  • The Cyan Centre on Climate Change Adaptation
  • The Data Research Centre
  • The Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG)
  • The Ernst Kossmann Institute
  • The Groningen Centre for Social Science Research
  • The Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy (GRIP)
  • The Groningen University Institute for Drug Exploration (GUIDE)
  • The Netherlands Agronomic Historical Institute (NAHI)
  • The Population Research Centre
  • The SOM Research Institute
  • The Terpencentrum
  • The Urban and Regional Studies Institute
  • The Van Swinderen Institute for Particle Physics and Gravity
  • The Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (ZIAM)

Facilities

Groningen has a huge range of great facilities on campus, including lecture theatres and classrooms in beautiful gothic buildings with modern, well-designed interiors. Some of the most popular student life centres for studying are the libraries. There are three in total: a main library in the city centre, the Zernike Library and the Central Medical Library.

All the libraries contain study spaces for individual and group work, lots of physical books, computer suites and online resources. There’s an online library system called SmartCat that catalogues Groningen’s library contents.

The university also has many research centres and institutes with modern, industry-standard equipment and research systems that support students online and in person. There’s a range of hireable AV equipment for university-related work, from research to teaching to publicity and commercial purposes. There’s also technical equipment available to hire, like laptops, video projectors and cameras.

Outside of class, there are lots of extracurricular options at the University of Groningen. On campus, there’s always a student activity centre for relaxing and socialising around the corner, including cafés, restaurants and the Students’ Union. Plus, anyone who wants to get active can enjoy one of the university’s amazing student recreation centres.

For example, the ACLO Sports Centre on the Zernike Campus is shared by 19,000 students from the University of Groningen and the Hanze University Groningen. Students who are studying at either of these institutions can buy an ACLO Sports Card for just EUR 59.95 annually. They can then enjoy a range of courses, over 50 sports clubs and lots of free hours. From squash to football, the list of sports available at the ACLO Sports Centre is long.

Accommodation

The University of Groningen does not provide on-campus university accommodation for its students. However, living in Holland, and in the province of Groningen in particular, is comfortable, safe and not too expensive. It should be easy to find student accommodation off campus.

The academic year usually starts in September, so the university recommends that students start looking for accommodation between May and July. This way, the best student houses and apartments won’t already be off the market and rented out to other Groningen students.

Compared to a lot of other European countries, the cost of living in the Netherlands is low. Students can usually live on less than EUR 1,000 a month, using student finance and part-time work to fund themselves. Although, international students from outside the EU will need to check whether or not their visa allows them to complete part-time work and re-assess their finances if it does not.

Many students are eligible for a EUR 265 bursary to help them with living costs, as well as a card for free transport. Students are encouraged to apply for an ISIC (a card showing proof of their student status which gives them access to perks and discounts at bars, shops, restaurants and cultural attractions).

Student Support

The Groningen student support programme covers every possible student want or need. Lecturers and tutors care about their classes and want to make sure student needs are met in and out of the classroom. The Student Service Centre (SSC) is the main source of student support on campus, protecting student wellbeing and offering expert advice on a range of topics, including:

  • Study skills
  • Study delays
  • Psychological problems
  • Disability and accessibility issues
  • Financial worries and questions
  • Legislation and regulation

There are lots of people to talk to at Groningen, from student guides and counsellors to psychologists to academic tutors. No student ever has to feel unheard or ignored when they have a concern, whether it’s about their academic life, their personal life, their financial situation or anything else. Student support services are always there to help.

International students can access targeted student services, especially when they’re settling into university and still getting used to life in a new country. They can even get student support before they arrive on campus, seeking advice about the visa and immigration process or about finding the right student accommodation. Any question that the University of Groningen can answer for an international applicant will be answered quickly and correctly.

Graduate Outcomes

Graduate outcomes from the University of Groningen are strong. Thanks to the university’s wide range of employability and career services, students leave the university fully prepared to enter the working world and equipped with all the skills that will make them attractive to employers. As well as a degree from a well-respected university, of course.

Students who choose to attend Groningen don’t need to worry about job prospects, as they won’t be leaving the university without an idea of where they’re going next. There are lots of alumni networking events, career fairs and workshops covering things like CV writing and interview technique. There are one-to-one appointments available with a career guide in which students can explore their career options and decide on the right path.

There’s even a full portal of online employment services and resources. From high standards in the classroom and practical, hands-on learning opportunities mixed with theoretical knowledge to great career services and networking events, there’s nothing the university doesn’t do to help its students on the way to success.

It should be no surprise, with all of this support, that Groningen alumni can earn up to EUR 80,000 per year in scientific fields, and graduates with careers in fields like finance and law can earn even more. Whether a student isn’t sure what to do after graduation or isn’t sure how to get into the role they dream of, expert careers staff at the university can help.

Potential undergraduate applicants dreaming of an academic future should know that Groningen alumni can go back to the university for postgraduate study at any time, and the university is enthusiastic about its students returning and continuing their research projects through master’s degrees, PhDs and beyond.

Subjects you can study at University of Groningen

  • Applied and Pure Sciences Applied and Pure Sciences
  • Architecture and Construction Architecture and Construction
  • Business and Management Business and Management
  • Computer Science and IT Computer Science and IT
  • Creative Arts and Design Creative Arts and Design
  • Education and Training Education and Training
  • Engineering Engineering
  • Health and Medicine Health and Medicine
  • Humanities Humanities
  • Law Law
  • Social Studies and Media Social Studies and Media
  • Travel and Hospitality Travel and Hospitality
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Key facts and figures at University of Groningen

Rankings

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023
Source: THE

75

QS World University Rankings 2023
Source: QS

145

Academic Ranking of World Universities 2022
Source: ARWU

66

Student life in numbers

COSTS PER YEAR
LIVING COSTS

€5,640

AVERAGE PRIVATE RENT

€4,125

AVERAGE TUITION FEE PER YEAR

UNDERGRADUATE

€11,910

POSTGRADUATE

€15,050

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