Best universities in the Netherlands 2020

Find the top universities in Holland, using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

September 16 2019
Wageningen University Atlas Building

Studying in the Netherlands is becoming more and more popular among international students, partly because of the ample choice of world-leading Dutch universities that teach in English.

In Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2020, the 13 universities in the Netherlands all appear in the top 250.

The best colleges and schools in the Netherlands are found in 12 cities. Amsterdam has two top universities.


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As more and more international students choose to study at a top Dutch university, the number of degrees taught in English has increased.

All Dutch universities in the ranking teach more than 40 different undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English and some – such as the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University – teach well over 100 degrees in English.


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Top 5 universities in the Netherlands

1. Wageningen University & Research

With a specialist focus on agricultural and environmental science, Wageningen University & Research is one of the world’s best institutions for life sciences and social sciences.

There are just under 14,000 students taking undergraduate degrees, postgraduate degrees and professional qualifications.

Most of the undergraduate BSc programmes are taught in a mixture of Dutch and English, but about 40 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are taught solely in English.

The university attracts a significant number of international students for this reason – about 27 per cent of all students come from abroad.

In total, the university offers 20 different undergraduate programmes, including courses in business, international development and health sciences. There are 37 programmes at master’s level, all of which are taught in English. All courses take two years to complete.

The town of Wageningen is in the centre of the country, but it is not too far from Amsterdam or the German border.

The university’s motto, in line with its focus on social and commercial problems, is: “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”.

2. University of Amsterdam

Established in 1632, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is the third-oldest university in the country.

It has about 26,000 students, making it the largest in the Netherlands by enrolment.

As well as falling just outside the top 50 in the World University Rankings, UvA ranks particularly highly for arts and humanities and social sciences.

The university offers about 150 degrees taught in English, attracting more than 3,000 international students from more than 100 countries.

The main campus is in central Amsterdam, with university buildings scattered around the city, allowing for good integration between students and locals.

UvA is one of Europe’s largest research universities, based on scientific publications and research funding.

The central library contains more than 4 million books and thousands of manuscripts, letters, maps and rare works. The university also has five museums.

=3. Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is the largest and oldest public technical university in the Netherlands.

It was founded as a royal academy for civil engineers, partly to educate civil servants who would work for the Dutch East India Company.

The number of students at TU Delft increased dramatically after the Second World War, prompting the tradition, still in practice, of having a “reception week” for new students, which is similar to freshers’ weeks in the UK and the US.

Although the university buildings were originally in the city centre, now they are all based in Mekelpark, the neighbourhood designed for that purpose.

Of particular note is TU Delft Library, which has a roof covered with grass for natural insulation.

About a quarter of the 18,000 students at the university are international.

=3. Leiden University

Founded in 1575, Leiden University is the oldest university in the Netherlands and maintains ties with members of the Dutch royal family, who often attend as students.

Many politicians were educated at the university, in addition to a number of prominent intellectual and cultural figures.

Philosophers such as Spinoza and Descartes were at Leiden during the Dutch Golden Age. Since then, 16 recipients of a Nobel prize have been affiliated with the university, including Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi.

More than 200 degrees are taught in English at the university, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The 28,000-strong student body includes students from 100 countries.

Despite its mature age, Leiden University is known for innovating and employs an unusual teaching style that focuses on individual learning and group work.

5. Erasmus University Rotterdam 

Erasmus University Rotterdam is a public university located in Rotterdam. It was named after 15th-century humanist and theologian Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus.  

The university was established in 1913 as the Netherlands School of Commerce, changing its name a few times before finally becoming the Erasmus University Rotterdam in 1973. 

The university has seven faculties that focus on the following four areas: health, wealth, governance and culture. 

University staff include a number of notable scientists and politicians, such as Nobel laureate Jan Tinbergen and former prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende.


Top universities in the Netherlands 2020

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2020 results 

Netherlands Rank 2020  World University Rank 2020  University City/town
1  59  Wageningen University & Research Wageningen
2  =62  University of Amsterdam Amsterdam
=3  =67  Delft University of Technology Delft
=3  =67  Leiden University Leiden
5  69  Erasmus University Rotterdam Rotterdam
6  73  University of Groningen Enschede
7  =75  Utrecht University Utrecht
8  127  Maastricht University Maastricht
9  =128  Radboud University Nijmegen Enschede
10  138  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam
11  =186  Eindhoven University of Technology Eindhoven
=12  201–250  Tilburg University Tilburg
=12  201–250  University of Twente Twente

Read more: Best universities in the world

Reader's comments (1)

Would you tell me, Ho to get schoolarship there. :)

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