The Netherlands, frequently called Holland, is a small country in Europe with an enormous influence in the world. With its liberal ideology and openness to ideas, the government is a model for forward-thinking societies.

The Netherlands is known for its bicycle-friendly cities and sustainable communities. Tourists marvel at the windmills and tulip fields in the countryside, while cathedrals and canals in the cities leave people astonished. Delftware, delicious cheese, and world-famous beers are iconic influences of the Dutch. Furthermore, it has given the world artists and scholars like Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Christian Huygens, and Desiderius Erasmus.

More than that, the Netherlands is one of the leading countries in providing quality education. They have a lot of universities that rank globally. If you’re interested in studying here, this article will help you decide what university to enter. In the article below, we listed the best universities you can find in the Netherlands!

Top Universities in the Netherlands for International Students

1. Wageningen University and Research

The Wageningen University and Research is a public research university specializing in life and social sciences. Wageningen UR has been the best university in the Netherlands for the past 15 years and is leading worldwide in agricultural sciences, plant sciences, food science, and environment and ecology. It carries out field-based research in over 10 institutes in food safety, livestock, dairy farming, economic analysis, and more. They collaborate with the government, non-profit organizations, and international institutes.

Wageningen UR achieved its goal of becoming carbon neutral in 2015. The university’s dedication to the living environment extends to its whole community, and students will surely experience a holistic perspective of education.

2. University of Amsterdam

The University of Amsterdam is a public research university and the largest in the Netherlands in terms of enrollment. This top university in the Netherlands for international students comprises seven faculties: social and behavioral science, humanities, economics and business, law, science, medicine, and dentistry. It is the highest-ranking European institution in social sciences. International students in UvA have over 200 English-taught programs to choose from, one of the broadest offers in Europe.

UvA stands for cutting-edge research in European studies, Brain and Cognition, Global Digital Cultures, and Humane AI, to mention a few. Aside from academic excellence, its extensive library and museums contain special collections on the history of Europe and the world. UvA’s location in the beautiful city of Amsterdam caps a rewarding academic experience.

3. Leiden University

Leiden University is the oldest higher education institution in the Netherlands. LEI is best known for its dedication to the social sciences and is high-ranking in history, arts and humanities linguistics, pharmacology, archaeology, public policy, and several others. LEI’s research leads in many fields, including life sciences, natural sciences, international law, and astronomy.

LEI was established in 1575 to reward the town of Leiden for their resistance against Spanish invaders. It lives by the motto ‘bastion of freedom’, which stands for diversity and inclusiveness in the modern-day. Indeed, the university promotes the liberty of knowledge and welcomes international students from over 120 countries every year.

4. Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus University Rotterdam is a leading university in the Netherlands, especially in clinical medicine and social sciences. Its Medical Center is the largest medical center in the country. Business and economics courses are also renowned at the university. Financial Times ranked EUR among the top business schools in Europe. Furthermore, the university has seven faculties offering quality education in the health sciences, health policy, economics, law, behavioral science, history, and philosophy.

EUR is a multicultural environment with international students comprising 20% of the student population. Its overall initiatives include international collaborations, smarter choices for better health, and increased contribution to cities.

5. Utrecht University

Utrecht University, one of the best universities in the Netherlands for international students, is a research university known for its innovative approach to teaching and research. It is the most influential institution worldwide in climate and ecosystem research. Furthermore, UU aced subject rankings where it placed in the top 10 worldwide. These subjects are Veterinary Science, Pharmacology, Reproductive Biology, Public Administration, and Geography. Research at UU focuses on open societies, dynamics of youth, sustainability, and life sciences.

From 1636 to this day, UU stands by its motto gleaned from Malachi 4:2. The verse means to be enlightened by the sun. Indeed, the university moves towards horizons through curiosity, optimism, and determination to contribute to the world.

6. Delft University of Technology

The Delft University of Technology is the Netherlands’ largest technological university. It began as the Royal Academy for engineering education of civil servants. Presently, it has over 40 technical-scientific disciplines organized into eight faculties. The subject areas of Civil and Structural Engineering, Architecture, and Mechanical Engineering rank among the top five in the world. The university’s research is characterized by its Delft approach, which means an interplay between teaching, research, and application disciplines.

TU Delft has one of the largest campuses in the world with an integrated bike network, parks, a flight simulator, a botanical garden, and more. This vibrant academic community is home to nearly 5,000 international students.

7. University of Groningen

The University of Groningen is the second-oldest in the Netherlands and voted the best in the country, as reported by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). This time-honored university has been providing quality education in a broad scope of disciplines. Humanities, economics, spatial science, natural science, and technology are some of its high-regarded study areas. Furthermore, the university delivers vital research in chemistry, astronomy, ecology, and material science.

This top university in the Netherlands blends its longstanding academic tradition with an innovative and global outlook. UG has one of the largest international communities with 6000 students from 120 nationalities.

8. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam translates to “Free University of Amsterdam,” which pertains to its independence from the State and the Dutch Reformed Church. Moreover, it also denotes the university’s open organization and substantial relationship to society. VU is organized into 9 faculties of the traditional academic disciplines while outstanding in clinical health, social science, life and agricultural science, and business and economics.

VU follows an interdisciplinary approach in its research, focusing on sustainability, information technology, and corporate social responsibility. The university offers 150 English-taught programs, including computer science, business analytics, and international business administration.

9. Maastricht University

Maastricht University is the youngest among Dutch universities yet has established an international standing. It has been awarded ‘Distinctive Quality Feature for Internationalisation’ and placed 4th in the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings. Financial Times also included UM in the top 25 best business programs in the world. In specific subject areas, the university excels in clinical, pre-clinical and health, and business and economics.

The university was established in 1976 primarily for medical training. Today, in addition to medicine, UM provides first-class teaching in psychology and neuroscience, arts and social science, economics, engineering, and law. Furthermore, research at UM focuses on innovation, quality of life, and issues of a globalizing world.

10. Radboud University

Radboud University has been recognized as the best comprehensive university in the Netherlands for many years. It is also known for its prolific research output and scientific contributions. The first picture of a black hole was an accomplishment of this prestigious university. Physics is undeniably the university’s strong suit. Nonetheless, RU is also excellent in law, business, political science, sociology, and theology.

Radboud University provides full English bachelor’s programs in many subjects. Some of them are artificial intelligence, computing science, chemistry, biology, American studies, language and culture, and international economics. In RU, you are guaranteed high-quality teaching and outstanding research opportunities.

11. Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

With over 90 programs and almost 50,000 students, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, also known as AUAS, is among the biggest and highest-ranking universities in the Netherlands. With the vision of leading the city towards a better future, the university pushes its students to produce solutions by incorporating various industries into its curriculum. This highly immersive method gives the students an edge in the real world over those educated solely in classrooms.

International students have a wide variety of programs to choose from, all of which are of high quality and taught at a level that would make them globally competitive.

12. Eindhoven University of Technology

A widely connected institution, the Eindhoven University of Technology utilizes its allies and partners to provide top-tier education for its students. Much like any technology-centered university, TU/e looks to the future and wishes to lead the world toward innovation.

The university is in alliance with other top universities in the country, namely Wageningen University and Research and Utrecht University, in developing the science of preventive health. In the same field, Zhejiang University partners with TU/e in educational exchange programs, as well as more research in the field of medicine. This partnership also gave birth to a joint research institute focused on healthcare.

13. University of Twente

The University of Twente is indeed a science university, but a rather special one at that. Its change-driven vision is a cross between two disciplines: science and entrepreneurship. The university boasts five different faculties, which are then divided into more subdivisions of institutes and departments. This organizational structure allows each division to tandem with one another, providing a boost for the benefit of each.

Aside from the rich education and valuable research, this top school in the Netherlands also houses first-class laboratories on campus in the fields of engineering, medicine, earth science, and nanotechnology.

14. Tilburg University

When it comes to international universities, very few can say that they have a very diverse student population, and Tilburg University is one of them. Being among the top 50 universities in the fields of Business, Economics, Law, and Psychology, the university is a top destination for students from around the world. As a result, the university’s student population is rich in diversity with more than a hundred different nationalities.

The university’s excellence is recognized by multiple evaluating bodies from all over the world, and this could be the result of its educational system that aims to revolutionize learning in many ways.

15. IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

Water is just as important as it is limited, and nowadays this is common knowledge. As the world starts to do something about this crisis, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education equips the world with knowledge to make a difference.

The institute focuses on education and research with one goal in mind: water availability. To do this, research is done by the brilliant people of the institute. It also educates students from all around the world to combat the ongoing water crisis more effectively.

16. Hanze University of Applied Sciences

The Hanze University of Applied Sciences has always believed that by educating their students, they will be able to make an impact on the world as a whole. In much fewer words, “Share your talent. Move the world.” With over 70 degree programs, the exceptional education provided by the university will surely do just that as they produce experts in fields that are bound to make a difference.

True to its reputation of being one of the best schools in the Netherlands, Hanze continues to find ways to further improve the quality of education it offers while promoting sustainability on a national and global scale.

17. ArtEZ University of the Arts

While most of the universities on this list focus on sciences, there is no denying the presence of those drawn to the arts. In cases like such, the ArtEZ University of the Arts stands out like an exhibit’s centerpiece.

The university caters to students around the world who want to learn more about the arts, in any form, shape, or medium. They seek to develop artists that are not just good on paper or canvas, but also as leaders and professionals involved in society and its movements. They believe art should serve a larger purpose than beauty and should inspire innovation and development.

18. Codarts Rotterdam

Codarts Rotterdam is another exceptional art school that aims to develop talents into full-fledged artists who are ready to inspire on an international scale. They pride themselves in using methods that combine trends and traditions, teaching arts as no other university does.

Oftentimes, scouts look to Codarts seeking fresh talent. This makes the institute very well-connected and is great for artists who seek to showcase their talent on a wider stage. These scouts come from organizations all over the country, as well as the world. What Codarts does is develop the students’ gifts and prepare them well for what lies ahead.

19. EIT Digital Master School

The world has gone digital, and this is no secret. Those who know gain the upper hand. The goal of EIT Digital Master School is to provide that knowledge to students from all over the world.

This top Dutch university boasts magnificent numbers, having more than 200 partners in related industries, stretching its reach across 16 technical universities, thereby allowing students to study in 7 different countries. On top of that, a very large fraction of its graduates can find employment within half a year after graduation.

20. HAN University of Applied Sciences

An ambitious university, the HAN University of Applied Sciences sets its sights on very important areas, with the vision of making the world more sustainable and healthier. They promote social responsibility by addressing education, as well as doing relevant research in making the world a better place to live in.

With 14 schools, the university touches several fields that equip students from all over the globe with the skills and knowledge to perform well in their chosen industries. The university ensures that its graduates are not just educated with a textbook, but are ready to tackle issues that require critical thinking and quality-oriented output.

FAQs about Studying in the Netherlands

Is the Netherlands Good for International Students to Study in?

International students are highly satisfied with first-class learning, excellent research, and an overall high quality of living in the Netherlands. Nearly all of the universities in the country appear in various international rankings, whether leading in subject areas or through recognition of research work.

A genuinely welcoming country, 95% of locals speak English and are very open to self-expression and sharing of information. Several internationally recognized degrees are taught in English too. Moreover, tuition fees in Dutch universities are relatively low since the government subsidizes them. The cost of living in Holland is affordable as well, considering you’ll be staying in one of the safest and most beautiful countries in the world.

Check Also: Programs in Europe for International Students

Can International Students Work in the Netherlands While Studying?

International students can work in the Netherlands alongside their studies with very few considerations. If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, you can work freely without a permit and have no limits on the number of work hours. If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss student, you can work up to 16 hours a week or full-time in the summer (June to August). You will need a valid residence permit and a work permit. For internships and volunteering work, there is no work permit requirement.

For non-EU/EEA/Swiss students, your work permit is processed by your employer with the Immigration office, and there are two types to consider. For less than three months of work, your employer will apply for a standard work permit (TWV). For jobs longer than three months, your employer will apply for a work permit combined with a residence permit (GVVA).

Can International Students Stay in the Netherlands After Graduation?

After graduation, international students can stay in the Netherlands by applying for an orientation year. This 1-year search permit, or zoekjaar, allows you to join the Dutch labor market wherein employers do not need to apply for a work permit. The goal is to be hired as a Highly-Skilled Migrant.

Once you find employment as a highly Highly-Skilled Migrant, you become eligible for a residence permit. You can find more information, such as valid travel documents and medical test requirements, at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) website. If you don’t find employment after 12 months, you can acquire other types of residence permits to work.

We hope that this article on the best universities in the Netherlands for international students was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Programs in Europe for International Students to know more information!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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