Studying in the Netherlands

The Hague University of Applied Sciences
The Hague University of Applied Sciences

Comment: Hoi!
I have a question about studying a masters in the netherlands! I was born in Australia but my Dad was Dutch. The thing is, he left the netherlands at the age of 8, so now I’m unsure whether it’s possible to get a dutch passport. I’ve looked up information but it seems unclear. You seem to know a lot about this, do you have any points of recommendation for me?  Sarah.

I recently received this email and am replying in a blog post so that others who are interested can also read the information, or may also have experience to share in a comment.

Visas and Passports for the Netherlands or Australia

Firstly, I regularly receive emails via this blog asking about visas and passports for either the Netherlands or Australia.  I am not at all in a position to advise on this, the only authoritative source is the Embassies.

Dutch Embassy in Australia:

Australian Embassy in the Netherlands: (though note they do NOT deal with visas, you can find more information here:

If you find the information to be unclear, please contact the embassies directly, I have found they have always done their best to help.  Situations and laws can change, but the embassies will have the most up to date information.  They unfortunately won’t always give you the answer you want, in which case you can of course do more research, or look for an immigration agency who may have some experience in dealing with your situation – however be aware that these will usually charge significant amounts of money and ultimately, the decision and authority lies with the embassies.

Studying in the Netherlands

Back to studying in the Netherlands.  Following a Bachelors or Masters in the Netherlands is a great option and there is a lot of support for international students.  The quality of education in the Netherlands is excellent and even if you can’t communicate in Dutch, there are plenty of English-language programmes in a broad range of disciplines.

The authority for “internationals” including Australians studying in the Netherlands is NUFFIC.  You can read more about the organisation in the Wikipedia entry here: and on their official website here (in Dutch but with some English information):

They do have a dedicated website in English covering everything you need to know about studying in the Netherlands here: and the following video was produced with the goal of attracting international students.

Student Visas for the Netherlands (as an International Student)

Back to visas – if you are an Australian citizen wishing to study in the Netherlands, the university you are applying to should have a department which will assist you in obtaining the information you need to apply for a student visa.  The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) has more information here: 

My personal understanding is that if you are an Australian citizen and qualify for entry at the Dutch university of your choice, apply and are accepted, and have means to support yourself during that year (i.e. enough funds to pay the tuition and living expenses) then you should be able to obtain a visa for the duration of your studies.  Full details are here:

Once you graduate, you can currently apply for a 1 year extension to be able to have the opportunity to work in the Netherlands with your new Dutch qualification.  After this year, you will then need to have a Dutch company sponsor you to stay on an employment visa, or you will need to return to Australia.

Studying in the Netherlands with a Dutch passport

If you have Dutch heritage, you can look into whether you may qualify for Dutch nationality.  If you do and obtain this, then you will no longer be seen as an international student.  For some universities, particularly the research ones (such as TU Delft and Erasmus) this means a significant reduction in tuition fees.

My personal experience of studying in the Netherlands

Over the last year, I have actually had quite a lot of personal experience about studying in the Netherlands!  If you’re a new reader to this blog, to bring you up to speed –  I hold dual nationality Dutch/Australian.   Initially from Australia, I’ve married a Dutch man and we’ve lived between the countries (you can read more about me here).  I obtained my Bachelor of Business degree via Open Universities Australia and Swinburne University of Technology by distance study while living between Australia and the Netherlands.

In October 2014, I took a 5 week teaching contract at The Hague University of Applied Sciences as a freelancer via my business, Zestee Social Media.   I’d long been interested in guest lecturing or teaching at a university, but until then, hadn’t really looked further into this and had focussed on social media training for entrepreneurs.  Through a connection, I met with the head of the IBMS (International Business & Management Studies) Bachelor’s programme and started just a few hours a week, teaching second year students for the “ebusiness” module.  The entire Bachelor’s programme is taught in English and around half of the students are Dutch and the other half from many countries around the world.  Teaching that age group (about 18-22 year olds) was a totally new experience for me, but I loved it.  After that short contract ended, I was offered another freelance one in the same department for 5 months, from February-June 2015.  This time, I was teaching subjects such as Intercultural Competence, Business Planning and Marketing and decided I could really see myself doing this as a long term career.   However to become a permanent staff member as a lecturer, you need a Master’s degree.  For a while, I’ve been considering this and with this extra motivation, in September 2015, I began my 2 year journey of teaching 50% of the week in the IBMS department and being a part time student in the MICM programme (Masters in International Communication Management).  Due to my dual nationality, I am considered a Dutch student in the Master’s programme, but the majority of my fellow students are from other countries such as China, Uganda, Oman and many more.  No other Australian’s yet!

So I’m now both a student and lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and though there are daily challenges, I’m loving it.  With around 1800 staff and approximately 25,000 students, there is a very active atmosphere and I particularly like how international the environment is.   Soon, I will write another blog post about my personal experiences of studying (and teaching) in the Netherlands but for now, if you have any questions, you’re welcome to contact me or comment below.

University or University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands?

One of the biggest tips I can give is to understand the differences between a “university” (Universiteit in Dutch) and a “University of Applied Sciences” (Hogeschool in Dutch).  The first is a “higher” level of academic studies with a focus on research.  They will also usually have a more difficult criteria for entry.  Most importantly for Dutch residents, a Master’s programme is heavily subsided at a universiteit e.g. to study at TU Delft or Erasmus Rotterdam, the local student fee is around 1900 euros a year but to study at a Hogeschool is around 15,000 euros a year.  This is fairly ironic and can be hard to understand, considering that the universiteit is a “higher” level of education, however I think it has to do with complicated political and historical factors and I do hope will change in the future.

Many say the Dutch society is fairly flat (i.e. not hierarchical, not just the landscape!) but I’ve found those who have had an universiteit education often consider themselves as “above” those with a Hogeschool education.  Personally, I prefer the very practical approach of the Applied Sciences, where academic research and principles are important, but there is a real focus on “how will this work in the real world”.  I’ll stop here with this comparison, as it’s one of those topics that will no doubt spice up a Dutch dinner party conversation with strong opinions, but if you’re an Australian considering studying in the Netherlands, this is something you will want to look into a little further.  To some extent, you could be limited by your Australian qualifications and which are accepted and where – for example, Erasmus (a universiteit) would accept me in the Master’s programme I applied for with my Bachelors from Swinburne University of Technology – but only on the condition I did an additional full time year of a Pre Masters, where I would “catch up” on the “methodology” (i.e. academic research expectations), however this was not a requirement at The Hague University of Applied Sciences (a Hogeschool) where I was able to immediately start a Master’s.

Dutch students studying in Australia

Finally to round off this post, I would say that if you are an Australian keen to look into studying in the Netherlands, I’d recommend it!   As this blog – and my life – have demonstrated for some time, Australians and Dutch have a lot in common and I think studying in the “other” country would be a great experience for many.  Are you a Dutchie wanting to go to Australia?  There is also a website for Dutch students wishing to study in another country, including Australia:   I’d love to write a blog post about this, so if you have done this please contact me.

So, Sarah, I hope that helps you and anyone else considering studying in the Netherlands, I’d love to hear how you go in a comment below.



8 thoughts on “Studying in the Netherlands

  1. If your father was Dutch when you were born in the Netherlands or abroad and he was married to your mother, you are a Dutch national. From here on the option procedure (takes 3 Months) is the fastest and easiest way of acquiring the Dutch nationality.

  2. I was a Dutch national married to an Australian by the time my eldest daughter Michelle was born in 1980 in Australia , about a decade ago she applied for the Dutch nationality as a second nationality and the Dutch authorities told her she was not eligible, in 1985 I lost my Dutch citizenship when obtaining the Australian , however since 2003 I regained it through the ‘Option ‘ programme and am a dual citizen at present , I believed my daughter was entitled to be a Dutch national , not so !

  3. “the local student fee is around 1900 euros a year for universiteit but to study at a Hogeschool is around 15,000 euros a year.” This is not true at all, I don’t know where you got this information but it’s not true. We pay the same amount of money for a Hogeschool or a Universiteit, which is around €2000 per year.
    I’m a Dutch MSc student currently doing a double master degree Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane.

    1. Hi Daphne, thanks for taking the time to comment! I got the information by working & studying at the Haagse Hogeschool. Dutch citizens do get a Bachelor’s subsidised but a Masters, from everything I have researched, is only subsidised at certain research universities such as TU Delft and Erasmus. All the Master’s programmes at the Haagse Hogeschool (Hague University) as far as I’m aware are not subsidised. If you have information otherwise please share as I’d love to follow up on it! Thanks. Be also great to have an article about your experiences studying in Australia if you’re like to share. I miss Brisbane! -Renee

  4. Hi Renee,
    Thanks for your reply. Yes, it is very complicated here in the Netherlands. because students pay different fees depending on their previous education. And NON EU students pay a lot more than we do. Since we are looking at this from the point of view of Dutch students; they pay the same amount which is called ‘wettelijk tarief’ for the first studies they start, whether it is a bachelor on a university of applied science (hogeschool) or university (Universiteit), which is around €2000 this year. However, when someone wants to do a second bachelor or master while already having completed one in the Netherlands, they have to pay ‘instellingstarief’, which NON EU citizens also have to pay and this amount of money is different for each school because they can make it up theirselves.
    The master programs at Haagse Hogeschool are maybe not subsidized because they’re no ‘real’ masters. In the Netherlands, a Master of science, sociology, law etc. can only be obtained at a real university, not at a university of applied science. You also won’t get a title for these kind of masters. However, I do know that at other universities of applied sciences, the masters do get subsidised, so that you can still pay ‘wettelijk tarief’ for your master. However, the Dutch students’ ‘studiefinanciering’ will stop after four year (so after the bachelor), which is a monthly payment from the government to help us pay our accomodation rent and studies. I hope this clears some things up for you.
    However, for NON EU citizens, studying in the Netherlands will always stay (relatively) expensive.

    PS: Are you from Brisbane yourself? If so, do you have any tips with regards to accomodation or any other tips or tricks? I’ll be leaving in a week 🙂

  5. To follow up on your specific question with regards to subsidy for a masters program: The first masters program you participate in, is always subsidized as long as you are a Dutch student.
    For instance, I am doing a MSc right now in international business at Maastricht University, for which I had to pay €2000 (wettelijk tarief) a year because it is my first masters. However, I really wanted to do two masters, but if I would do my second one in the Netherlands, after finalizing my first one, I would have had to pay at least €10,000 (instellingstarief), because it would have been my second one and the government doesn’t see an added advantage in subsidizing students to get multiple degrees. So they only let us pay the reduced amount for our first bachelors and our first masters. That’s partly the reason why I’m doing my second masters in Australia 🙂
    Again, hope this clears things up!

    1. Hi again Daphne,
      Yes, I believe this is the case at certain universities – like in the article though, I am pretty sure this is only the “universiteit” definition of university. As your other comment says, many Dutch consider a Hoogeschool “not a real university”. This is very disappointing, as on an international scale, the Hogeschool Masters aligns with Universities in countries such as Australia, the UK, America, Canada and many other countries.

      Further to this, they also offer a much more practical and in many cases flexible education, for example in my case, with a job and two children, I needed part time study and preferred it in English, and this was my only feasible option. I did get into Erasmus, where I would have had the subsidy with my Dutch passport – however they don’t consider my Australian degree sufficient and I would have had to actually do two years full time study (one year pre Masters + a Masters), which would have been pretty much impossible with two young children.

      Sure, there may be some difference in the focus and “level” of the study, but it does actually seem quite discriminatory for the subsidies to only be offered at some places and not others. I’ll continue to research, but had actually brought this up in my discussions with a few people over the last few months, and what it really seems to come down to is the Dutch perception that a “hogeschool” is not a “real university” as you say in your comment. By my Australian standard – a University of Applied Sciences – is very much a “real” university (in fact, I think more “real” in that it often prepares you more practically for the “real world”). The perception seems to be that the subsidies will “catch up” with the Hoogeschools in the future, but it will be too late for me unfortunately!

      Yes, I’m from Brisbane but have been gone for several years so can’t be of much help, but good luck, thanks for sharing the information, and I wish you an amazing time in Australia! You’d be most welcome to submit some articles about your experiences of studying there if you like.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.