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Get Admission to Study in the Netherlands for Free in Just 2 Weeks, See How To Apply

The Netherlands, also known as Holland, is one of the top study abroad destinations in Europe. With a strong international student community, high-quality education, and affordable living costs, the country offers an excellent environment for international students.

Perhaps the biggest attraction is the availability of numerous English-taught programs, reasonable tuition fees at public universities, and attractive scholarships. What’s more, certain Master’s degrees are free for international students in the Netherlands!

So if you wish to study in the Netherlands for free or at low costs, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need – eligibility, application process, free and low-cost programs, scholarships, visa, travel, accommodation, and more.

Is studying in the Netherlands for free possible?

Yes, international students from outside the EU/EEA can study certain Master’s degrees for free (no tuition fees) at Dutch public universities. Additionally, there are several grant and scholarship options available that cover not just tuition fees but also your living expenses during the program.

The affordable cost of living also makes the Netherlands an attractive study destination. Compared to countries like the US, UK, Australia, and Canada, you can easily manage your expenses in a monthly budget of €800-1000.So while “free education” comes with some terms and conditions, the Netherlands remains among the cheapest countries to study abroad for international students.

Who can study for free in the Netherlands?

To study for free as an international student in the Dutch universities, you need to:

  • Apply for select Master’s degree programs offered in English
  • Gain admission in one of the publicly-funded Dutch universities
  • Be a non-EU/EEA national staying in the Netherlands on a study visa

In short, the tuition fee waiver is applicable only for non-European students enrolled in eligible English-taught Master’s programs at public universities in the Netherlands.

Which Master’s degrees can you study for free?

More than 1,400+ English-taught Master’s degrees are available to choose from. However, not all programs are tuition-free for non-EU/EEA students.The good news is that almost 50% of the English programs fall under the tuition fee waiver policy. These are mostly STEM programs focused on science and technology. Some examples of tuition-free Master’s programs in the Netherlands include:

  • MSc in Computer Science
  • MSc in Chemical Engineering
  • MSc in Physics
  • MSc in Mathematics
  • MSc in Industrial Engineering
  • MSc in Bioinformatics
  • MSc in Embedded Systems
  • MSc in System and Network Engineering
  • MSc in Information Studies
  • MSc in Logic

Non-EU/EEA students admitted to these English-taught programs are eligible to study for free at Dutch public universities.

How much does it cost to study and live in the Netherlands?Nursing Abroad 668d5950f2ef45a578f204bc54e2d908

Apart from tuition fees, studying abroad entails other costs such as visa fees, flight tickets, accommodation, health insurance, books and supplies, food, transport, and more.

Here is an estimate of the typical living costs for international students in the Netherlands:

  • Accommodation – €400-800 per month
  • Health insurance – €100-150 per month
  • Food and groceries – €200-300 per month
  • Personal expenses – €150-300 per month
  • Public transport – €100-150 per month
  • Other costs (books, phone bills, leisure) – €150-300 per month

In total, you require around €1,000 to 1,500 per month for living expenses. Your exact budget will depend on your lifestyle and spending habits. Also, do account for any special costs during your time in the Netherlands.

Luckily, numerous scholarships and part-time work opportunities are available to cover not just your tuition but also these living expenses.

How to apply for universities in the Netherlands?

The application process to study in the Netherlands typically includes:

1. Shortlisting universities and programs

  • Research different universities and English-taught programs using sites like Study in Holland.
  • Shortlist programs as per your interests, eligibility criteria, and budget.

2. Check admission requirements

  • Entry criteria varies for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
  • For Master’s, you would need a relevant Bachelor’s degree with good grades. Some programs also require relevant work experience.
  • Refer to the university website or contact them to know the exact admission requirements for your chosen program.

3. Prepare application documents ;Typical documents required for Dutch university applications include:

  • Completed online application form
  • Certified academic transcripts and certificates
  • English language proficiency score (IELTS/TOEFL)
  • Copy of passport
  • Resume
  • Motivation letter or Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  • Letters of recommendation (optional)
  • Additional program-specific requirements

4. Submit your application

  • Complete the online application before the deadline through Studielink.
  • Upload all required documents.
  • Pay any mandatory application fees.

5. Accept offer letter

  • If accepted, you’ll receive the offer letter and enrollment instructions.
  • Accept the offer and complete any steps outlined in the offer letter.

Start your preparations at least 12 months in advance for a smooth application process. Application deadlines for most programs are in January or February for studies starting in September.Nursing Abroad scholarships netherlands

How much are application fees to study in the Netherlands?

Application fees are not charged by Dutch universities for Bachelor’s and most Master’s programs. However, some Master’s degrees do charge application fees ranging from €100-150 or more. This non-refundable fee must be paid before submitting your application.But the good news is that many Master’s programs don’t charge any application fees. So research properly before applying.

What documents are required for a Dutch student visa?

Once accepted into a Dutch university, you must apply for a student visa (MVV) and residence permit (VVR).The key documents needed for the student visa application include:

  • Valid passport
  • Recent passport-size photographs
  • Completed application form
  • Acceptance letter from the Dutch university
  • Health insurance proof (covering your first year of stay)
  • Sponsor letter declaring financial means to support your studies
  • Any other documents mentioned in the university acceptance letter

Submit the MVV application via the Dutch Embassy in your home country. Once approved, collect your MVV visa and fly to the Netherlands.

Next, apply for your residence permit within 3 months of arrival. Submit an appointment request online to visit an IND (Immigration) Desk.Carry your health insurance, housing contract, and bank account details for this meeting. If approved, you will receive your residence card allowing you to study and live in the Netherlands.

Can you work while studying in the Netherlands?

Yes, international students are allowed to work for a maximum of 16 hours per week along with their studies. There is no special permit required.You can find part-time jobs in hospitality, retail, delivery, tourism, admin roles, and more. Average pay is around €10-15 per hour.Working while studying helps offset your living costs.

Do note that working over 16 hours a week with a student visa is illegal.After graduating, you can stay back and work full-time for up to 3 years on the ‘Orientation Year’ highly-skilled migrant visa.

What scholarships are available to study in the Netherlands for free?

The Dutch government and universities offer numerous scholarship options for international students:

1. Holland Scholarship

Funded by Dutch universities and the Ministry of Education, Holland Scholarship is open to non-EU/EEA students enrolling in Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. You get €5,000 for your first year of studies. It covers partial tuition fees and/or living expenses.

2. Orange Tulip Scholarship

Offered by Dutch universities and higher education institutions, OTS awards €5,000 to €25,000 towards Master’s degree costs.

3. MENA Scholarship Programme

The MENA scholarship for Middle East and North Africa students covers up to €25,000 for eligible Master’s programs at Dutch universities.

4. University scholarships

Many Dutch universities like University of Amsterdam, TU Delft, University of Groningen etc. offer their own international student scholarships with funding up to €25,000.

5. Beeline Scholarship

Beeline Startup Visa scholarships are open to non-EU startup founders who gain admission to Dutch accelerator programs. It covers €2,000 in living costs.

6. UNU Fellowships

The United Nations University funds merit-based fellowships for short courses and postgraduate programs at its campuses in Netherlands.

7. Numerous external scholarships

Scholarships offered by government agencies, charitable foundations, private trusts etc. in your home country can be used to fund studies abroad too. So research multiple options to fund your education and living costs in the Netherlands. The affordable lifestyle also allows you to easily manage part-time work with studies.

What are the best cities for students in Netherlands?

Some of the most popular Dutch cities for international students are:

Amsterdam – The vibrant capital renowned for its elaborate canal system, cycling culture, and lively nightlife attracts the biggest international crowd. University of Amsterdam is among the top-ranked institutions here.

The Hague – Situated on the North Sea coast, The Hague is the seat of the Dutch parliament and government. It also houses the International Court of Justice and over 150 international organisations. Study options are available via The Hague University of Applied Sciences.

Rotterdam – Known for its modern architecture and Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam offers a diverse, multicultural environment. Erasmus University Rotterdam features in the global top 100 rankings.

Utrecht – With the largest university in the Netherlands, medieval architecture, enchanting canals, thriving arts scene, and young demographic, Utrecht provides an idyllic European student experience.

Groningen – Dominated by student life, vibrant cultural events, eclectic nightlife, and relaxed vibes, Groningen in northern Netherlands attracts a huge influx of local and international students every year.

Maastricht – Bordering Belgium and Germany, the historical city of Maastricht is renowned for its cobblestone streets, Roman ruins, museums, and cafes. Maastricht University is among the best young universities globally as per rankings.Nursing Abroad download

Nijmegen – The oldest city in Netherlands, Nijmegen boasts rich history, stunning architecture, vibrant festivals, and the country’s largest public university (Radboud University) with a huge international student population.Tilburg – Located in southern Netherlands, Tilburg University city attracts students interested in social sciences, law, economics, arts, and humanities programs.

Wageningen – Surrounded by nature and forests, Wageningen is perfect for students interested in agriculture, climate, environment, and related programs offered at Wageningen University & Research. So pick a city that appeals most to your academic interests and lifestyle preferences.

What is the process to travel to the Netherlands as a student?

  1. Get admission and visa approval – Ensure you have the university acceptance letter and Dutch student visa before booking flights.
  2. Book accommodation – Arrange temporary housing for your initial few weeks through university dorms or rental platforms like HousingAnywhere.
  3. Get travel insurance – Purchase insurance to cover health, accidents, thefts, and any trip cancellations.
  4. Book flight tickets – Find the best airfare deals, preferably 1-2 months before your semester starts.
  5. Arrange transport from the airport – Trains, buses, taxis and Uber services offer transportation to your accommodation.
  6. Collect residence permit – Apply for your Dutch residence card within 3 months of arrival to legally live and study there.
  7. Register with municipality – Visit your local Gemeente office to register as a Dutch resident once you have your permit.

Follow all immigration instructions to legally reside as an international student in the Netherlands.

Next Steps to Apply

If you meet the admission and English requirements, pick your preferred universities and programs in the Netherlands and get your applications ready today.Aim to apply by each university’s priority deadline for the best chance at admission and funding opportunities.

Be sure to also spend time searching for and applying to relevant scholarships. With numerous high-quality English-taught degrees and affordable living costs, the Netherlands is an excellent choice to gain a world-class, cost-effective education in a dynamic, progressive country. And by acting now, you could secure admission within two weeks!

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