Best universities in the Netherlands 2018

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

September 5 2017
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 2018, 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. University of Amsterdam

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

It has about 25,000 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.

2. 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 about 16,000 students at the university and a quarter of them are international.

3. Wageningen University and Research

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

4. 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 23,000-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.

5. Utrecht University

Utrecht University was founded in 1636 and is located in the beautiful, medieval city of Utrecht centrally located in the Netherlands.  

The university initially opened with four faculties in philosophy, theology, medicine and law. Since then it has expanded to seven faculties including humanities, law, economics and governance, geosciences and veterinary medicine. There are 49 bachelor's programmes and 147 master's programmes in total.

Utrecht University offers 89 English-taught master’s programmes and six English-taught bachelor’s programmes. 

The Utrecht Psalter is a book of psalms dating to the Carolingian and is considered one of the  "crown jewels" of the Utrecht University Library collection. In October 2015 the Utrecht Psalter was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Some 12 Nobel Prize winners are associated with the university as well as 19 Spinoza prize winners. 


Top universities in the Netherlands 2018 

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2018 results 

Netherlands Rank 2018 World University Rank 2018 University City 
1 59 University of Amsterdam Amsterdam
2 63 Delft University of Technology Delft
3 64 Wageningen University & Research Wageningen
4 67 Leiden University Leiden
5 68 Utrecht University Utrecht
6 =72 Erasmus University Rotterdam Rotterdam
7 =83 University of Groningen Groningen
8 103 Maastricht University Maastricht
9 122 Radboud University Nijmegen Nijmegen
10 =141 Eindhoven University of Technology Eindhoven
11 =165 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam
12 =179 University of Twente Enschede
13 195 Tilburg University Tilburg

Read more: Best young universities in the world

Reader's comments (1)

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

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