I am extremely fortunate to be studying not only in the Netherlands, but at Leiden University. Why would I call this fortunate, you may ask? I previously studied at St Andrews in Scotland and I would also say that I was lucky to have done that as well. But things have changed in the UK as we all know. My bachelors programme was around £1,800 a year. At that price, the level of education was fantastic, and I am still very glad I got the opportunity to study there. But now that I have moved to the Netherlands, and the financial situation for students in the UK has become far worse, I think that the options here are fantastic.
Let’s get the most pressing matter out of the way: tuition. The fees here for EU students are around €1,900-€2000 a year. This was of course a major factor in deciding to come to the Netherlands. You can also get a tuition fee loan as an EU student, with similarly favourable interest rates as UK loans. Mind you, there is no accommodation loan, but the money you save on tuition and cheaper living expenses will still be in your favour.
I am sometimes a little wary of rankings, but this is not something that should be sniffed at, particularly when it comes to employers. The Times Higher Education has Leiden in the top 20 universities in the world for Humanities. How this matters to me is not so much about the numbers though. If I am getting a good degree from a university that is well-recognised for a fraction of the price, then why wouldn't I?
So, what’s stopping you?
To this question, I would assume British (and other international) students would have three answers: distance, restricted choice of teaching in English, and another country/culture. These are all valid issues, but I think that in the case of the Netherlands they are not significant enough to prevent students from applying, and I will tell you why.
I am speaking mainly about Leiden, but this would apply for most Dutch universities. Most of them are quite close to international airports. Leiden, for example, is a 15 minute train ride from Amsterdam Schiphol. I can get back to London in about three hours. This is a shorter distance than from St Andrews to London, and much easier!
Yes. The Netherlands has a majority of courses taught in Dutch, which is natural, of course! But things are changing. Many universities are increasing their English language BA programmes, and many have almost all their Masters programmes in English. Leiden has only six BA programmes, but is planning on increasing this number, while 95% of their Masters are in English. I found so many interesting programmes here, and one that suited me perfectly.
This one is not such a big issue for me because I have moved from country to country throughout my life, and it was merely another step for me. But I can completely understand how something very new and different could be intimidating. The Netherlands is not the same as the UK or elsewhere, and there will be things you find strange. But the most difficult thing about moving to a new country is usually the language, and here you avoid such a problem. You are able to get by in English, and yet there is still the opportunity to learn a new language. I have found it a lifesaver to be able to practice in Dutch, but, should I really need it, be able to switch into English.
Don’t let moving to another country put you off benefiting from a great education at a low cost!