Best universities in the Netherlands 2017

Find the top universities in Holland, using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data
September 21 2016

Wageningen University Atlas Building

Wageningen University Atlas Building
A driverless bus service has started at Wageningen University and Research Center

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 2016-2017, the 13 universities in the Netherlands all appear in the top 200.

The best colleges and schools in Holland are spread over 12 different 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. 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 civilian 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 original university buildings were in the city centre, now they are all based in Mekelpark, the university neighbourhood designed for that purpose.

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

There are just under 20,000 students at the university and a quarter of them are international.

TU Delft ranks in the top 20 in the world for engineering and technology and is in the top 50 for life sciences.

2. University of Amsterdam

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

It has about 30,000 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, judged by scientific publications and research funding.

The central library contains more than 4 million books and thousands of manuscripts, letters, maps and rare works. Five museums are run by the university.

3. Wageningen University and Research Center

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

It is one of the best 50 universities in the world and is in the top 20 for life sciences.

There are just under 10,000 students taking undergraduate degrees, postgraduate degrees and professional qualifications.

Most of the undergraduate BSc programmes are taught partly in Dutch and partly in 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 20 per cent of all students are from overseas.

In total, the university offers 20 different undergraduate programmes, including courses in business, international development and health sciences. There are 29 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 border with Germany.

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”.

Top universities for life sciences

4. Erasmus University Rotterdam

Teaching and research at Erasmus University Rotterdam focuses on four broad academic areas: health, wealth, governance and culture.

Students learn in international classrooms, where both lecturers and students come from a variety of different countries.

At bachelor level’s, most programmes are taught in Dutch, but there are also specialised international programmes taught in English that are designed to prepare students for international careers in business, communication and media. About 40 per cent of the students on these programmes are international.

Most postgraduate degrees – including taught master’s, research master’s and doctorate programmes – are taught in English.

First years who are high-achieving undergraduates are invited on to a special honours programme that tackles contemporary issues in society and science.

The university is spread across four campuses, with most facilities located on Campus Woudestein, often referred to as “the heart of the university”. A pavilion on campus houses a cultural centre that includes a theatre and an exhibition area.

Students are a significant minority in the city of Rotterdam, but many multinational employers based in the city look to the university to recruit talented graduates.

5. 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 and leaders were educated at the university in addition to many 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 20,000-strong student body includes students from 100 different countries.

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

Top 100 universities for arts and humanities


Top universities in the Netherlands 2017

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2016-2017 results

Netherlands rank 2017 World University rank 2017 University City
1 59 Delft University of Technology Delft
2 63 University of Amsterdam Amsterdam
3 65 Wageningen University and Research Center Wageningen
4 69 Erasmus University Rotterdam Rotterdam
5 77 Leiden University Leiden
6 =80 University of Groningen Groningen
7 86 Utrecht University Utrecht
8 94 Maastricht University Maastricht
9 =121 Radboud University Nijmegen Nijmegen
10 =153 University of Twente Enschede
11 =156 VU University Amsterdam Amsterdam
12 177 Eindhoven University of Technology Eindhoven
13 =198 Tilburg University Tilburg

Resources: explore the rankings by subject

- Best universities for arts and humanities
- Best universities for life sciences


Reader's comments (1)

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

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