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Publication is placed in the group «Academic Exchange and Mobility»
10 Reasons Why Dutch Universities are at the Top of International Student Wish Lists
When you look on the map, geographically, Netherlands is a small country, but it does not come unnoticed when it comes to international study opportunities. Netherlands has managed to stay on the map of the most popular countries for studying abroad and covers several top ranked universities, rated for their quality education, by just mentioning QS Rankings and The Times Higher Education.
Apart from that, you’re probably interested in the general aspects of the student life and atmosphere in the Netherlands. So here is what you should know about the academic system of Dutch universities.
1. Benefit from world-class technical equipment and facilities
Dutch universities have everything you ever dreamt of in terms of equipment, such as multimedia library, laboratories and simulation rooms. They have the most modern technical equipment, and they're not afraid to use it and share it with the students. For example, if you need a high definition camera for a study project or anything that is school related, feel free to ask for whatever you need.
You can also find learning centres with PC work stations, scanners, video and audio equipment – all for self-study purposes and meant to optimize your study environment and performance.
2. Dutch universities value student's opinions
The Dutch education system is student-centred, meaning everything is focused towards providing students the best education and also letting them become independent learners. In all Dutch universities, teaching style relies more on self-study, where students normally work on projects as a team and professors are just simple guides.
Unlike other educational systems, Dutch professors highly encourage student interaction in class and you can freely express your opinion or ask a question, without the fear of being criticized or judged. One of the main values of the Dutch educational systems is equally respecting all opinions.
3. Freely engage in discussions during seminars
Each academic year is split into two semesters, with each semester having ten weeks. During each semester, you would usually study four main courses (topics) and the end of the semester is followed by one or more exam weeks. You can also study elective courses and you can choose from a wide range of options.
In the last semester of the final year of your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, your workload will be focused mostly on the graduation project.
During a lecture, you would sit in class along 30, 100 or even a larger number of students, but you will also attend seminars, which are usually between 12 and 15 students in the form of discussion groups. At seminars, students lead the class and the discussions and the professor is just a moderator and adviser.
4. Develop teamwork and cooperation skills
Dutch education emphasizes alternative study groups. Small groups of 2 to 5 students work together for a project or assignment. This system is really effective, due to the fact it helps retain information and knowledge better and it helps improve your communication and cooperation skills.
Dutch universities don't just comply with traditions for the sake of it. They are innovative in their approach of education, study and research and they adapt to the needs and interests of the current generation.
Check out the experience of these students that pursued a degree in the Netherlands:
- Tytti's study experience
- Suvit's study experience
- Vivian's study experience
- Laura's study experience
- Gabriele's study experience
5. Grading system in a Dutch university
The grading system is based on a 1 to 10 scale, where 1 is the lowest grade and 10 is the highest. When it comes to passing or failing an exam, usually grades below 6 means you failed and you’ll have to re-take the exam.
If you’re an international student, the truth is that as long as you prove you’re hard working, and try to do your best, professors will appreciate it, so it’s unlikely that you’ll fail any class.
6. Embrace the multicultural environment of the Netherlands
Among your peers, you will encounter various different nationalities, Spanish, Italian, French, German and more. You will have to interact, work on a study project, or even live together. This is a perfect opportunity to exchange ideas, learn new things about a different culture or even learn the foreign language you’ve always been attracted to.
7. Are the Dutch flexible or do they stick to the rules?
Although they can accept a lot of things, they tend to stick to their own rules. One thing they don't tolerate is the lack of punctuality. So try to be in class in time. Of course, if you have something to do they'll accept it, but you have to discuss it first and it has to be an exception rather than a rule.
For instance, they might understand students that also have a job and accept skipping a few classes once in a while, as long as this does not have a negative effect on the learning performance.
Check the student life in these Dutch cities:
8. Do all Dutch people speak perfect English? Yes, they do
If you’d have to name an obvious aspect that is really easy and comfortable for any foreigner in the Netherlands, that would be the fact that everybody speaks English and at quite a very good level. So you won’t necessarily have to adjust to a new language. English is available everywhere, in universities, as you will find plenty of English-taught degrees and throughout the streets of any Dutch city as well.
Although this is a great advantage, you should try to learn basic Dutch words, just so you would at least understand street signs, labels, etc. In addition, you would immerse and understand the Dutch culture better.
9. Work opportunities for students in the Netherlands
Most study programmes in Dutch universities are practically-oriented and for instance, Master students are required to spend 15 months of internship in a laboratory, or a company, throughout the two years of study. So you can easily attain practical experience and develop valuable skills, particularly in your field of study.
In the Netherlands, you can engage in an internship or a job even if you don’t speak Dutch. You will find many multinationals, and the most thriving fields are tourism, retail, commerce, engineering, and information technology.
This is a great opportunity that can also help you easier land a job in your home country once you get back, maybe at the same multinational. Examples of companies with a local office in the Netherlands are: Heineken, Phillips, AkzoNobel, Unilever, KLM, Achmea, Mittal Steel.
10. Get inspired by the open-mindedness of the Dutch people
Dutch people are constantly looking for new ideas, and as a foreigner, they will regard different thinking style as a special gift. Use this special feature of the Dutch culture to your advantage and try to apply it in the way you learn, the way you communicate or even in the way you present a study project. Professors of the Dutch universities will certainly appreciate innovative approaches.