If you were to believe the course websites, almost every Dutch master’s course has an international component: a flashy English course name, ties with international universities or ‘an internship abroad is highly recommended’. In this article, you’ll find out what current students actually think about the level of internationalisation of their school.
Internationalisation in the Netherlands
According to Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education, the number of international students choosing to study in the Netherlands has been increasing for many years. And it seems that the ‘higher’ you get in education, the more international the environment becomes. For university bachelor’s degrees, about fifteen percent of students come from abroad. For master’s degrees (research universities and universities of applied sciences together), this increases to more than a quarter (27.9%). This upward trend continues with doctoral research, with four out of nine PhD candidates coming from abroad.
The number of international students on your course depends a great deal on your subject area. For engineering, economics and business courses, this figure is one in three, and for agricultural training courses in Wageningen, half of all students are international. On the other hand, the percentage of foreign medical students is very low. The arts sector doesn’t seem to have any borders either: in higher professional education, most international students are found in the various art disciplines. International students come from all corners of the world. The most common countries include China, Italy, Greece, Spain, Indonesia, Italy and the United States.
Of course, a higher percentage of international students calls for more English-language education. At present, approximately sixty percent of Dutch master’s courses are provided exclusively in English (compared to 21 percent of bachelor’s courses).
Dutch politics are somewhat contradictory when it comes to the use of the English language. On the one hand, the coalition agreement states that the international classroom is celebrated, but on the other hand, the course language should only be English if this has ‘added value’. This is, in itself, understandable – a poor command of English by lecturers and students can bring down the scrutability of the material and the level of discussions in work groups quite considerably.
Who's best in internationalisation?
This year, for the first time, students gave their opinions in the National Student Survey (NSS) about the extent to which they think their institution is internationally oriented. Are you encouraged to go abroad, and is this practically feasible without leading to a big study delay? They were also asked whether the course involved knowledge of other cultures. In tables 1 and 2, you can see which research universities and universities of applied sciences receive the most and least positive ratings in terms of internationalisation.
For master’s courses at universities of applied sciences (see table 1), the students of the various arts degrees were particularly impressed with internationalisation. For example, students of Fine Art and Design at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in Maastricht and students of Fine Art at ArtEZ University of the Arts thought that internationalisation was perfectly organised. The teacher training courses at a range of different institutions are not as internationally oriented.
At three small universities of applied sciences, NHTV, the Reformed Driestar College and the agricultural VHL University of Applied Sciences, there is a lot of attention for internationalisation. At the Marnix Academy, which works together with a number of Christian universities of applied sciences, the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and NHL University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden, internationalisation was considerably lower on the agenda, see table 1.
It comes as no surprise that the university master’s courses with an international focus perform best in terms of internationalisation. European Studies in Groningen and Development Studies in Utrecht, for example, have a strong international focus. Forensic Criminology in Leiden and teacher training barely encourage or facilitate international experiences.
It’s great for the many international students on the agricultural training courses in Wageningen that this university scores best when it comes to internationalisation. There are also many international students in Maastricht, and Dutch students are encouraged to spend time abroad too. Students at Eindhoven University of Technology are also very satisfied with this. At both universities in Amsterdam and in Leiden, students think that internationalisation could be improved, see table 2.
All about the money
Dutch tuition fees for a first course of study are relatively low. In the 2018-2019 academic year, these amount to €2060 per year. For students from EEA countries, Switzerland and Suriname, the same fees apply in principle. Students from other countries pay considerably more, ranging from €6000 to €20,000 per year.
The Netherlands does not have a campus tradition. Most students rent rooms. These are usually in houses that they share with other students. In big cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam, it can be difficult to find a room. On average, rooms in the Netherlands cost between 300 and 600 euros per month.
You can find more information about studying in the Netherlands on the website www.studyinholland.com.