Best locations for international students in the Netherlands

Studying abroad is a great way to expand your horizons, encounter new people and experience new cultures. It builds your character and gives you a fresh perspective. It will be challenging, don’t get us wrong, but it’s worth it. 

As you stand at your life’s crossroads and look at all the options out there, don’t panic. Yes, there are plenty of universities, cities, and countries to pick from. The Netherlands may be a good choice if you lean more toward Europe.

 Here’s a sneak peek: high-quality and affordable education in many disciplines in an international and open-minded community. Did we get your attention?

Why study in the Netherlands

 The Netherlands is one of the most popular countries in Europe for international students. And this is why:

Significant international and multicultural community

International students from all over the globe come to study in the Netherlands. Their number is steadily growing.

 Last year, 115,068 students from 168 countries selected the Netherlands for their studies.

 The highest international students came from Germany, Italy, Romania, China, and Belgium. Most Dutch universities have international student associations which help students throughout their studies.

 Out of all non-Anglophone countries in Europe, the Netherlands is ranked #1 for its English skill this year. The high English proficiency of its locals makes a living, studying, and working convenient for international students. Another factor that attracts international students is the openness and tolerance of Dutch people. You’ll be encouraged to share your opinions and express yourself.

Affordable Study Costs

Studying in the Netherlands isn’t that expensive. The Dutch government has subsidized higher education and made tuition fees relatively low. You will be free of enormous debts.

 The average annual tuition for international students depends on programs and institutions. It goes between 6,000€ and 15,000€, which is lower than in other English-speaking countries like the UK and US.

 Many Dutch universities offer grants and scholarships that can reduce or fully cover the tuition fees of study programs.

Dutch universities

Innovative Teaching Methods

Dutch universities are acknowledged worldwide for their modern courses and innovative teaching approach. The high-quality educational system in the Netherlands focuses on teamwork. Group work helps you develop your academic skills and your ability to work as a group. 

 Dutch universities emphasize good relations between professors and students. Most of the tutorials and seminars are organized in smaller groups. Another positive thing that attracts students from all over the world is the practical element. Practical experiences are essential, and don’t they know it.

Affordable Living Expenses

Compared to other western European countries, like the UK and Ireland, the cost of living in the Netherlands is relatively low. You can combine part-time jobs with your studying. As a student, you can also get discounts in many bars, restaurants, and museums. Another way to save some money is by using a bicycle. For many more benefits and discounts, get your ISIC Student Card

A wide range of degrees taught in English

 The land of tulips is the first non-native English-speaking country in which universities provided higher education study programs in English. You can choose from many study programs and courses that cover a broad range of fields.

 There’s a small catch if you’re from a non-native English-speaking country. You must take the TOEFL, IELTS, or a similar English language test.

 Even though you can manage to live and study in English, don’t be dismissive of Dutch. Give it a try and take an introductory Dutch language course.

Dutch students

Excellent opportunities for travel

The Netherlands is within easy reach of all major European cities. You can fly from Amsterdam to Paris, Berlin, Brussels, or London in about an hour. The railway connection is also impressive if you’re more of a train person.

 The transportation system is, in general, well-connected. If you get an OV-Chipkaart, you’ll get access to free public transportation. Explore the whole country cheaply and conveniently.

Internationally recognized degrees

You’ll be happy to learn that education in the Netherlands meets all international standards. After all, you’re here for your education. It has a good reputation and many well-known universities. Scientific research at Dutch universities is highly valued.

 Look at having a diploma from a Dutch university as your golden ticket. You’ll have an opportunity to start your own business or build a career in any country.

Great place to live

The Netherlands is one of the safest countries according to the 2022 Global Peace Index, and it’s in the top 7 happiest places.

Competitive economy

Let’s not go ahead, but knowing what to expect after your studies is good. Students who study in the Netherlands tend to want to stay forever. It’s more than possible for you to find a job after graduating. You’re in a modern-day tech and startup hub, so use it.

Delicious food

You’ve heard of the Netherlands in the context of tulips, bicycles, and windmills, but it’s time for food to steal the show. The variety of tasty food will surprise you.

Every Dutch table has cheese, butter, and meats. And the glorious Dutch pastry will blow your mind and fill your belly. Some must-try snacks are stroopwafels, pancakes, apple tarts, and licorice.

If pastries aren’t your thing, there’s much more to explore in Dutch cuisine.

Healthy and active lifestyle

The Netherlands is one of the healthiest countries in the world. It comes as a surprise, especially after previously mentioned tasty goods. The cycling culture has a lot to do with it.

The Dutch value sports and other forms of physical activity. Combining it with social interaction gives you a healthy mental space. You’ll be able to confront any challenge of living and studying abroad.

Universities in the Netherlands

Dutch library

In Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2023, the Netherlands has 13 universities ranked in the top 300.

There are two types of higher education institutions in the Netherlands:

  • Universities of applied sciences
  • Research universities

A university of applied sciences prepares you for a specific vocation, whereas research one offers more general courses.

The Netherlands gets much attention for its highly ranked and prestigious medical, engineering, law, and business schools. Several have high rankings and a global reputation for scientific discovery and research.

It’s time to talk about serious stuff. Money plays a big part in making this life-changing decision. The burning question is, does the Netherlands have free college?

Public Dutch universities charge tuition fees to all international students. Often, students from the EU/EEA, Switzerland, and Surinam pay lower tuition fees than the non-EU/EEA ones.

You’ll come across two terms: statutory tuition fee and institutional tuition fee.

Statutory tuition fee applies to

  • International students from the EU/EEA
  • Graduates who have already studied in the Netherlands
  • Students that have a certain type of resident permit

Studying costs depend on the university, the discipline, and the degree type. Your university costs will range between 700-2,100 €/academic year.

Institutional tuition fee applies to non-EU/EEA students. Institutional costs are higher than statutory fees. Expect to pay anywhere between 6,000-15,000€ for a Bachelor’s degree and 8,000-20,000€ for a Master’s degree.

The best way to study in the Netherlands for free is by obtaining a scholarship. There are several scholarship options available to international students, including non-EEA students.

Where to study in the Netherlands 

There are plenty of university cities in the Netherlands, but The Magnificent Seven you should choose from are:

  1. Amsterdam, 
  2. Delft, 
  3. Leiden, 
  4. Groningen, 
  5. Rotterdam, 
  6. Utrecht and 
  7. Eindhoven.

These are the best cities to live in in the Netherlands. Each city owns its spot in its own right. You can choose where to study in the Netherlands depending on what matters most. Will you choose based on the living costs, college selection, or cultural life? It’s up to you.

We recommend you take everything into account.


University Amsterdam

If you’re looking for a welcoming multicultural community and a high-quality education, Amsterdam is the place for you. 

Cultural life

As the capital, it’s a popular tourist destination, but at the same time, it has that laid-back vibe. A vibrant, creative, cultural, and business hub with over 160 canals and adorable bridges for you to explore.

The number of events in the Dutch capital is surprisingly high for the tiny city that it is. Clear your weekends for festivals, gatherings, and exhibitions. Your social life will blossom in Amsterdam. With this many distractions, studying will be challenging, but we believe in you.

Dutch people, for the most part, are very open-minded. The city itself supports LGBT rights, is multilingual, and is home to many different cultures.

The things that will make your student life difficult here are the prices. It’s not news that living in Amsterdam is expensive. But there’s a way to solve this issue. The Student Employment Services at the University of Amsterdam provides employment opportunities to students. You can earn money while studying and pay your expenses.

An even more known fact is that the demand for apartments is higher than the supply.

The top universities in Amsterdam

The Dutch capital ranks among the world’s best student cities with a total of 32 educational institutions, 8 universities, and 24 colleges.

The oldest university in Amsterdam is the University of Amsterdam (UvA – Universiteit van Amsterdam). It’s one of the most diverse universities in the Netherlands, with over 12,500 students from abroad.

The UvA ranks 58th in the world. It offers over 20 English-taught Bachelor’s programs and nearly 200 English-taught Master’s programs.

Another renowned university is VU University Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit). Based in one of the Netherlands’ fastest-growing business districts, Zuidas. This fast-paced business environment has a huge potential for networking, inspiration, and work experience.

Third on our list is Hogeschool van Amsterdam, University of Applied Sciences. It offers a wide range of business-related programs.

Available Student Accommodation

Studying in Amsterdam is a new and exciting experience. To fully immerse yourself in it, we recommend living with other students. It’s the best way to experience student life and connect with peers.

Some universities have access to a limited number of rooms for international students. With limited options, you should apply for your accommodation as early as possible and have plan B well prepared. The University of Amsterdam assists students in finding off-campus housing near the university’s campus.

Your other option is to stay in The Social Hub and make the most out of living and studying in Amsterdam.

Cost of Living

We’ve already talked about tuition fees in the Netherlands. The price of your university experience will depend on the university you choose and the courses you take.

What about other costs? Most students can get by on 800-1,100€ per month. This includes rent, food, public transport, and leisure expenses.

Public transport can be expensive if used daily. Lucky for you, bicycle lanes are well-developed and connected, so you can save some money by cycling. We’re all for that “treat yourself” attitude, but maybe cut the number of visits to fancy restaurants. These two simple changes in your living habits can do wonders for your monthly budget.


University Delft

If you’re more of a cozy person that enjoys a quieter lifestyle, this beautiful historic town is a place for you.

Cultural life

Welcome to a pretty little town famous for its blue pottery. It’s located in the province of South Netherlands and has easy access to larger cities. Delft has been linked to the Dutch royal family.

Delft is a miniature version of Amsterdam. It doesn’t have that many canals, but they are still admirable. You can spend your free time exploring museums around the town. Maybe visiting museums doesn’t sound very inviting, but don’t worry, Delft has a lot of bars and cafes. After all, this is a college town.

If all mentioned isn’t exciting enough, you can always take a tram or train and visit nearby cities.

University of Delft

This city is home to the acclaimed Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), a world-renowned institution for science and technology. TU Delft attracts researchers and students from all over the world. It’s the most prominent technical public university in the Netherlands, which welcomes around 20.000 students annually.

Delft University has 8 colleges and nearly 50 Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. It offers tech gurus a vibrant learning environment and promising career opportunities.

Available Student Accommodation

There are three ways for you to find accommodation in Delft:

  • Through rental agencies or private landlords – Finding a room/apartment in Delft can be difficult and time-consuming. Delft has a shortage of affordable student accommodations.
  • Through lodging with family, friends, and other acquaintances
  • Through TU Delft’s housing service – TU Delft has partnered with various housing agencies in the Delft region to offer accommodation to students coming from abroad. You can only reserve your accommodation through TU Delft’s housing portal

Costs of Living

As a student or intern in Delft, you’ll spend around 800-1,100€ per month. The highest expense for you will be rent. You can rent in the 350-700€ range, but if you’re open to compromise and not getting yourself a glorious flat, you can save some money.

If you cook at home and get your fruit, vegetables, and meats from the open markets, your food expenses will be lower. Transportation costs can be a bare minimum since Delft is a small town. You can get by on a bicycle. Save some money and buy a second-hand bike; it will pay off.


University Leiden

Now we’re talking. The city of Leiden is known for being a university city. It’s the home of the oldest university in the Netherlands.

Cultural life

This is a small city when compared to Amsterdam. There is a wide range of entertainment options, so you won’t only study while living here. Spend all your free time in coffee shops, bars, and clubs.

The city’s biggest and most popular festival is on 3 October, lasting four days.

Everything is reached by foot, but you always have cycling around as an option. When traveling outside the city, your best bet is a train. You can get to the Hague in 10-15 minutes, and a journey to Amsterdam takes 30-40 minutes. If you’re in the mood for international adventure, Schiphol Airport is a 20 minutes train ride from Leiden.

University of Leiden

The universities in Leiden are the oldest in the country and offer the best quality education in the business, social sciences, and psychology fields.

Leiden University champions freedom. Its teaching approach ensures you the freedom to think for yourself and form opinions. Student-teacher interaction here is less formal than you got used to.

The University of Leiden has 6 faculties, over 50 departments, and more than 150 undergraduate programs. Its research programs are internationally recognized.

Besides Leiden University, this city has two more: Hogeschool Leiden and Webster University.

Available Student Accommodations

With a limited student budget, we recommend you a few places to live in Leiden:

Haarlemmerstraat – This is a shopping street with both affordable and expensive options. Many students choose to live here, which makes it a safe space for international students.

Leiden Centrum – This is the central part of Leiden with a surprisingly low accommodation cost.

Stevenson – This place is a little further away from the city center; it is calmer and with a smaller student population.

Costs of Living

As you would expect, the cost of living in Leiden is lower than in cities like Amsterdam. It’s around 900€ for a single person, not including rent.

Your main costs will be accommodation, food, and electricity. The rent can go from 350 to 1,000€, depending on the location and size of the apartment. Electricity will cost you around 100€ monthly. For groceries, we recommend you visit Saturday food markets to save money.


Groningen university

Welcome to the “World Cycling City,” the only place where as many as 57% of all journeys are made by bike. If you thought Amsterdam was a city of bicycles, wait till you visit Groningen.

Cultural Life

Groningen has well-known nightlife and has no closing times, so you can party as long as you have the strength to do so. There’s a large number of clubs and venues that cover all sorts of music genres.

Every January, Groningen hosts Eurosonic/Noorderslag (ESNS), a festival promoting European music.

Groningen has many parks where you can hang out with your peers if you prefer to take a walk and chill in nature. Students fill parks like Noorderplantsoen and Stadspark when the weather allows them to.

Universities of Groningen

Let’s start with the University of Groningen, a thriving international research university. It offers over 180 English-taught bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs.

Some successful people started their journey right here at the University of Groningen:

  • The first president of The European Bank,
  • The first female university student in the Netherlands,
  • The first Dutch astronaut and 
  • Four Nobel Prize winners.

Impressed yet?

Hanze University of Applied Sciences is the largest technical and vocational university in the northern Netherlands. It offers more than 70 degree programs.

Available Student Accommodations

International students live in the centrally located Student Hotel or in private accommodation. Finding a room to stay in Groningen can be problematic. Start looking for your accommodation at least 3 months before your arrival.

Costs of Living

Your main expenses as a student in Groningen will be housing and insurance. You’ll spend from 800 to 1,000€ monthly if we don’t include tuition costs. To save some money, choose a bike over public transport and home-cooked meals over prestigious restaurants.


Rotterdam university

The largest city port in Europe and the 10th largest in the world, also known as “The Getaway to the World”. Famous for its innovative architecture and is home to one of the top universities in Europe.

Cultural life

Rotterdam is very diverse in many ways. Its architecture and food are just an example. Each quarter has its own look, filled with old buildings or skyscrapers. It has the oldest fish market in the Netherlands, with diverse seafood and fusion cuisine.

You have museums and restaurants, many festivals and the zoo. A bit of everything for everyone. Rotterdam is the second largest urban area after Amsterdam. It’s a cosmopolitan city where foreigners make up almost half its population.

It’s important to mention that it can be pretty windy in Rotterdam. Dress up well!

Universities of Rotterdam

The Rotterdam University of Applied Science offers essential courses in every sector (except agricultural studies). No matter what exchange program you choose, there will always be a clear emphasis on practice.

Suppose you graduate from the Erasmus School of Economics. In that case, you’ll be equipped with the skills for success in the business community and government positions.

Available Student Accommodation

To rent an apartment in Rotterdam, you’ll need at least 600€. The most common option is to rent a room in a shared flat. It will cut your rental costs in half.

Costs of Living

Students living and studying in Rotterdam spend approximately 1,000€ a month. This amount of money covers everything but tuition.

The most significant part of your budget will usually go up to your rent. The amount for rent is around 400-700€ per month depending on the area and the accommodation type.

As for other cities, we recommend you save money by staying home and preparing meals. You can invest in a bike and save money by not using public transport in the long run.


Utrecht university

In the heart of the Netherlands, there’s a city with the largest and the most prestigious Dutch university. Utrecht is one of the Netherlands’ oldest cities.

Cultural life

Studying in Utrecht means learning in a beautiful medieval city. The city is small, but that by no means makes it dull. Students from all over the world come here, so it must be worthwhile. It hosts around 70,000 students from 125 different countries.

Medieval architecture with canals, docks, little bars, and restaurants creates a very intimate feeling.

You can use your free time by participating in student societies. These societies organize social events for their members.

Universities of Utrecht

Utrecht University is an international research university of the highest quality. It has 7 faculties in the humanities, social sciences, law, economics, governance and organization, geosciences, natural sciences, veterinary medicine, and medicine.

University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool Utrecht) focuses on sustainability in a physical sense. HU offers over 100 programs, which are entirely taught in English.

Available Student Accommodation

Utrecht is popular among students, hence its high demand for student housing. You need to anticipate the time and effort it may take you to find accommodation.

SSH is the largest student housing foundation in Utrecht. Next to SSH Short Stay, SSH also offers Regular Accommodation to Dutch and Internationals between the ages of 16 and 27.

Costs of Living

Most of the expenses are higher than the Dutch average. Utrecht is the 2nd most expensive city to live in in the Netherlands.

Based on Housing Anywhere’s Rent Index, you can expect to pay around 1,300€ for the apartment, 1,000€ for the studio, and 640€ for the private room.

The average price of groceries in Utrecht is 3.08% higher than in Amsterdam.


Eindhoven university

The home of a light bulb manufacturing company that you might have heard of. Philips, sounds familiar? Eindhoven is famous around the world for its industrial design skills.

 Cultural life

It is the capital of Dutch industrial design. It’s a compact and bike-friendly city.

During the day, you can take a walk or chill in one of the many parks in Eindhoven, and during the night, you can hang out in bars and clubs.

There are fun festivals held in the city; the most popular are Fiesta del Sol and Glow Eindhoven.

You should pay a visit to the Nuenen, a village nearby where Vincent van Gogh lived for many years.

Universities of Eindhoven

Design Academy Eindhoven is one of the world’s top design schools. It should be high on your list for art, architecture, or design education as an internationally recognized institute.

The Eindhoven University of Technology has the Netherlands’ best engineering and technology studies.

Available Student Accommodation

Student housing service offers a limited number of rooms for international students. You should find your accommodation yourself. Your search can be long and tiring, so make sure it starts as early as April if your studies start in September.

There are many scammers out there trying to use your tricky situation. Do thorough research and, if possible, go through the rental agency.

Costs of Living

Another Dutch city where your main cost will definitely be your rent.

The price of a complete apartment varies depending on its size and location. The monthly cost ranges from 890€ for a studio far from the center, with the average being 1200€ for an apartment in the city center.

Food and leisure expenses depend on your preferences. Prices are average, but you can save money if you cook at your place or choose cheaper bars to hang in.

It’s not the biggest city in the Netherlands, but it has bus, tram, and metro lines. Count public transport costs when creating a monthly budget plan.

In the Netherlands, there is something for everyone!

Are you hesitant to study abroad? Don’t. It will be an unforgettable experience, especially if your country of choice is the Netherlands. 

Just organize well and be consistent in your research. We can and will do everything in our power to help you out. 

Yours is to relax in your new apartment and focus on your studies. Piece of cake?



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