How is student life in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is a popular study destination among international students. Recent statistics put the number of international students in Dutch universities at more than 115,000. Known as the “Gateway to Europe”, the Netherlands offers a unique student life experience. Foreign students usually get out of their comfort zone in order to build a meaningful lifestyle during and after their studies in Holland. Here are a few points to keep in mind when it comes to the student life in the Netherlands. 

Why study in the Netherlands?

The main reason why foreign students choose the Netherlands for study has to do with the country’s international profile. Holland has the highest number of university programs taught in English in Europe with 95% of its population being fluent in English. Moreover, the country hosts students of over 160 nationalities. 

The other reason why to study in the Netherlands has to do with the quality of education. The Dutch education system is renowned for being one of the best in the world. As evidenced by the fact that more than 15 universities in the Netherlands are among the top 200 globally. And since the tuition and living costs are relatively affordable, you’ll get a great value for money when it comes to the education you’ll get in this beautiful country. 

And this is the last of the numerous reasons to study in the Netherlands we’ll dwelt on. You’ll get to complete your degrees in a gorgeous country that is diverse, open and offering you the opportunity to develop valuable skills such as problem-solving, creative thinking or cooperation with students from different backgrounds. 

Most student life in the Netherlands evolves around student associations 

Most of the student life in the Netherlands happen off-campus and focuses on cooperation and group work as a rule of thumb. And this is the case despite the emphasis on individualism in the Dutch society. Therefore, the norm is to engage in some sort of student activity whether you are a local or an international one. 

You are then encouraged to join student clubs and associations, which might be difficult in the beginning but always ends up very rewarding. One of the benefits of joining a student organization is that it can open doors for future employment opportunities. It helps you build a network, starting from university, as well as prepares you for the job market later on. 

The other advantage is that, along with student work, it gives you a forefront view of the Dutch culture and society. These associations have pretty straightforward structures and run like businesses, all of them being run by students. Each university has its own network of associations offering academic, sportive or recreational activities. 

The importance of volunteer work 

As you may have understood in the precedent section, cooperation is at the heart of the Dutch culture. Studies have proven that the Dutch are the most active nations in the world when it comes to volunteer work. And this has been a key factor in the positive development of the Dutch society. 

Moreover, in a country with around 400 individuals per square kilometers, cooperation is not optional, it’s a requirement! And to somehow get the most of your student life in the Netherlands, you may as well ride this wave. You’ll contribute to the society’s wellbeing, you’ll add a positive point in your resume, and you’ll get to make new friends during your study stay! In other words, it’s nothing but beneficial!

Studying in the Netherlands as an international student

Obviously, you’re going to spend a big part of your student life in the Netherlands at school. At Dutch universities, learning is not only interactive, respective of all opinions, it’s also student-focused. The academic approach is unique to the Netherlands and again emphasizes team work. 

It’s organized into lectures, tutorials, group work, seminars and even projects with local businesses in some cases. Another characteristic of the teaching you’ll receive during your university years in the Netherlands is that it gives you a great autonomy in planning your studies. Usually, the lecturers inform you about the study material but the planning and the way you approach the assignments are up to you! 

Accommodation in the Netherlands for students

Many cities in the Netherlands experience a shortage of housing. So we advise you to arrange for accommodation before moving in the country. Most students in Holland rent a room in student houses off campus. Not only this is the most cost-efficient option, but this also offers the opportunity to bond with other students. In this case, you may have to share the kitchen, bathroom and the living room with up to 3 other people.

Usually, universities in the Netherlands do not offer any on-campus accommodation. However, each institution has an international office that you can turn to. They’ll provide you with any help or guidance in finding the right housing. The other options include renting a private studio or an entire apartment. Renting a student room in the Netherlands will cost between €400 and €600 per month. 

Get more details on the matter in our guide on student accommodation in Holland.

Is the Netherlands expensive for students?

Another important feature of your student life in the Netherlands is your living expenses. The country has become a popular study destination among international students because of its relatively lower tuition fees and cost of living. At least, it’s less pricey than what applies to other hot destinations such as the USA or Canada or UK. Of course, public universities charge less tuition than private ones. And there are as well many opportunities of scholarships to support international students.

Moreover, public service in the Netherlands are way better than what you’ll have in other countries. Except from taxes, most of all the living cost components in the Netherlands are affordable too. Students can easily commute via train, metros, buses, trams, rented bicycles, and can even buy subscriptions making their travelling expenses very pocket friendly! 

We dissect all these details in our article on the living costs for students in the Netherlands. But to sum everything up, to be able to live in the Netherlands, students should anticipate to spend between €800 and €1,200 as their monthly living cost.

Student jobs in the Netherlands

International student life in the Netherlands also include working part-time to earn an extra-income to cover some of your living expenses. Students who are not citizens from the EU/EEA/Switzerland are allowed to work up to 16 hours in the Netherlands. Along with this, students need their potential employer to apply for a work permit for them. Moreover, to be able to land a student job in the Netherlands, you’ll need a social service number, a health insurance, and a bank account. 

Learn about all this in our guide on how to work and study in Holland

Read also our article on student insurance and health care in the Netherlands.


Dutch people are fierce supporters of a balanced lifestyle. So apart from school, lectures, seminars and work, you need to balance your student life in the Netherlands with some fun activities. And that’s what weekends are for in the Netherlands, where students indulge in sports, partying, visiting famous landmarks, cycling, taking a boat trip on the canals, eating outside etc. 

Moreover, students usually have classes for about 40 weeks per year. And this gives plenty of time to travel, whether it is for day trips to other cities or exploring your own city. Also, since the Netherlands are located in the middle of Western Europe, students are few hours away from other big cities. And with the discount students can get on transportation costs, it would be a mistake not to take advantage of it, during holiday periods.

Learning Dutch as an international student

Your student life in the Netherlands won’t be complete if you don’t take time to learn the Dutch language. And there’s no perfect place to do so than during your study stay in Holland, while you immerse in the culture and get acquainted with the people. You can improve your Dutch language skills through evening classes or summer courses. Moreover, you can always check with the foreign office of your universities to find out the best language courses to enroll in. 

About Herilalao

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