Dutch Education System

Dutch Education System

Education in the Netherlands

Higher education in the Netherlands is known for its high quality and its international study environment. With more than 2,100 international study programmes and courses, it has the largest offer of English-taught programmes in continental Europe. Moreover, The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranks the education in the Netherlands as the 9th best in the world as of 2008, being significantly higher than the OECD average.

Tuition Fees

Dutch higher education also has reasonable tuition fees. Annual tuition fees for students from an EEA country, Switzerland or Surinam start at €2,087 for the academic year 2019-2020. Moreover, the Dutch government has set up a funding system to pay for study costs, tuition fees, health insurance and costs of living. It is meant for students under the age of 30, registered in full-time or dual education in the Netherlands. In addition, there is study finance that is set to help students who work part-time, 56 hours per month. Contact the international office of your university to check which options are available to you. SimpleStay’s customers also receive first-hand information regarding all of these issues as part of the Integration Calls, which are conducted with already established students in the Netherlands.

Binary System

Dutch higher education has a binary system, which means that you can choose between two types of education:

Research-oriented education, offered by research universities;
Higher professional education, offered by universities of applied sciences.

Both research universities and universities of applied sciences can award a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.
In the Netherlands you first obtain a bachelor’s degree (first cycle), you can then continue to study for a master’s degree (second cycle). After completion of a master’s programme you can start a PhD degree or PDEng degree programme (third cycle).

Credit system and grading

A student’s workload is measured in ECTS credits. According to Dutch law, one credit represents 28 hours of work and 60 credits represent one year of full-time study. However, students are allowed to take up to 84 credits per year, which is 42 ECTS credits per semester. The grading system used in the Netherlands is on a scale from 1 (very poor) to 10 (outstanding). The lowest passing grade is 5.5, 9s are seldom given and 10s are extremely rare. Grades 1-3 are hardly ever used. The academic year in the Netherlands is 42 weeks long.


Many students do an internship as part of their study programme. Even though internships are not mandatory in every study programme in the Netherlands, the students are encouraged to gather some work experience, already during their studies. Some students are also interested in doing an internship abroad, or to study a year or a semester abroad as an exchange student. For more information about internships you can contact your study advisers.