Have you been researching where to spend your next academic years? If you are considering the Netherlands then look no further. In the next few paragraphs, EDUopinions will explore the best student cities in the Netherlands, according to our very own, verified student reviews. We also look at why it’s a great choice to study in the Netherlands, and what the benefits are for international students.
Why Study in the Netherlands?
Higher Education in the Netherlands is regulated by the government and of high quality. In fact, according to Universitas21, the Dutch higher education system is 7th in the world. Students can study at two types of institutions: universities of applied sciences or research universities. Despite being a non-English speaking country, the Netherlands offers many programmes in English, making it one of the top non-English speaking countries in the world for quality of education.
Is the Netherlands good for international students?
The Netherlands welcomes nearly 90,000 foreign students yearly, and despite not being the official language of the country, nearly 95% of locals can communicate in English. That said, it should be somewhat easier to make new friends and integrate quickly. Moreover, individuals with a student residence permit are allowed to work up to 16 hours per week during their studies and full time during recognized holidays. In addition, foreign students should consider the Netherlands for their next academic experience because after graduation they are allowed to stay in the country for one year and find a job without having to ask for a work permit.
The 10 Best Student Cities in the Netherlands (Student Ratings)
1. Nijmegen (4.60 stars)
- Student life: 4.5 stars
- Accommodation: 3.9 stars
- Internationality: 3.9 stars
Considered to be the oldest city in the Netherlands, Nijmegen is close to the German border and it is home to a one research university and one university of applied sciences. A little over 160,000 people live in the city, which is safe and friendly. Students can go shopping, watch a movie, visit museums, relax at the park, ride a bike, or visit other cities given that the city is served by 4 train stations and is well connected to the Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Dusseldorf, Eindhoven and Weeze Airports.
Radboud University, which has an overall rating of 4.5 stars on EDUopinions, was founded in 1923 and offers many Bachelor and Master degrees in English, some of which in the field of Business and Economics. Additionally, the university values internationality and, in fact, has partnerships with hundreds of institutions all over the world.
Radboud is the perfect place for a student who wants the feeling of an active university environment in a beautiful city. The campus is forested and green, the buildings are modern, and the university community is very active. There are many kinds of supporting services especially for international students. As a student there you can have a membership at an excellent gym for a very low yearly fee and be active in sports clubs, there are opportunities to be a student assistant for your professors, to be active in student associations, and many more things. Although Nijmegen is not very big it always has an event going on, and it is very well connected for visiting Germany, Belgium, and many other places. I am happy with the student experience because the classrooms are small, the program structure is very interesting with a number of elective courses, there is an opportunity to study abroad for a semester, and talking to or getting advice from teachers is very easy. I would definitely recommend Radboud to someone interested in a good academic environment in a beautiful environment.
For interests in communication, engineering and chemistry, you should also consider HAN University of Applied Sciences, which was founded in 1996 and counts more than 35,000 students.
2. The Hague (4.33 stars)
- Student life: 3.83 stars
- Accommodation: 3.25 stars
- Internationality: 4.5 stars
The Hague, with half a million population, is where the headquarters of the UN’s International Court of Justice is and this is why it is often named the International City of Peace. It is home to universities that welcome more than 30,000 international students every year. Thanks to the relationship between Education, Government and Business, it is usually not hard for students to find employment after graduation.
More than 146 nationalities are represented at The Hague University of Applied Sciences – THUAS, which opened its doors in 1987 and currently counts more than 25,000 students. THUAS offers International Business and Management programmes on a Bachelor’s and Master’s level.
I would recommend for people who want to experience education as it should be, meaning well structured, interactive, with engaged and helpful teachers and countless opportunities for self-growth, both personally and professionally.
If you are interested in studying Health, Sports, Welfare, Business, Education and Innovation, Inholland University of Applied Sciences is a good alternative. With 8 campuses throughout the Netherlands, Inholland counts more than 37,000 students.
Alternatively, if you are looking to pursue a career in hospitality, Hotelschool The Hague offers a Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management and an MBA in International Hospitality Management.
3. Tilburg (4.30 stars)
- Student life: 4.53 stars
- Accommodation: 3.30 stars
- Internationality: 4.15 stars
Third on our list of the best places to study in the Netherlands, we have Tilburg, which is considered to be the greenest city in the country and the capital of wool. With over 200,000 inhabitants, Tilburg is the sixth largest Dutch city.
Tilburg University, which was founded in 1927, offers 45 out of 70 programmes in English and awards around 130 PhDs yearly. According to US News, in 2020 Tilburg University is the fourth in Europe and seventeenth in the world for business and economics studies. It offers BScs in International Business Administration, Economics, Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation. On a Master’s level, it offers Finance, Marketing Management, Business Analytics, Economics, Supply Chain, and more.
Tilburg University provides great learning opportunities and encourages Students to grow independently . Faculty is helpful and provides base and skills which help Students to shape the future. Environment in University is great.
TIAS School for Business and Fontys University are alternatives. The former is associated with Tilburg University and Eindhoven University of Technology. The latter offers more than 200 programmes, some of which in German and English.
4. Eindhoven (4.29 stars)
- Student life: 3.82 stars
- Accommodation: 3.25 stars
- Internationality: 4.21 stars
Moving on, in fourth place we have Eindhoven, which is considered to be one of the most inventive cities worldwide. The city hosts the Dutch Design Week and is a start-up hotspot. Located in the southern part of the country, Eindhoven has a population of 231,000.
All courses at the Eindhoven University of Technology – TU/e are offered in English. The institution is constantly ranked in the top 200 universities in the world by THE, QS, ARWU and more. Students who graduate from TU/e have promising career prospects.
The university facilities are fairly decent, most of the equipment seems good. However TU may be lacking in small areas like some major lecture rooms not having electric outlets for students, or some course not having any decent quality (graphics/visibility) video-lecture. TU has a great city in terms of educational facility however this city being mainly a researching and business city is arguably not the best for “student-life” as many ‘fun’ things are outside student budgets, even something as basic as housing students seems to be problematic for this city. Professors can be a hit/miss with truly exceptional people like Bart the Algorithms teacher winning best teacher multiple years in a row, on the other hand, things like “I will not upload the slides because its too much paperwork” have been said by teachers, which is appalling. Finally, I think this university has fantastic career prospects due to its existing connection to the industry, which makes the struggle with everything else worth it.
5. Delft (4.20 stars)
- Student life: 4.06 stars
- Accommodation: 3.11 stars
- Internationality: 4.41 stars
In the southern part of the Netherlands, we can find Delft, located between The Hague and Rotterdam. This city, with a little bit over 100,000 inhabitants, is believed to be the birthplace of microbiology. Also famous for its blue pottery, Delft is an admired tourist location.
Delft University of Technology – TU Delft is the oldest and largest public technological university in the country. TU Delft, which is 178 years old, also ranks among the best 15 engineering and technology universities in the QS World University Ranking.
It is a prestigeous uni in the Netherlands! And in very proud to study at it. The exposure given throughout the years on job possibilities and the link they make with water/environmental companies for collaboration makes it feel there is purpose to what is being studied. There are some very good professors which adds further to the interest of working on new water tecniques! I highly recommend people interested in water management and environmental to study here
6. Utrecht (4.15 stars)
- Student life: 4.46 stars
- Accommodation: 3.76 stars
- Internationality: 4.30 stars
Home to more than 357,000 inhabitants and second only to Amsterdam for the range of cultural events in the Netherlands, Utrecht is a vibrant city and important transport hub for the region.
One of the best and oldest universities in the Netherlands, Utrecht University – UU boasts outstanding former students, such as 12 Nobel Prize laureates.
Also, TIAS Business School, located in the old university city of Utrecht, is the no. 1 Business School in The Netherlands, according to Elsevier Rankings and it is listed in the Top Financial Times and Economist Rankings.
I remember TIAS as a place where I always had personal assistance and felt like home from the outset. Further, I have had a great time with detached professors of discussing both career and study cases.
As a result of a fusion between several institutions, HU University of Applied Science Utrecht comes to life in 1988. It now counts more than 38,000. For those of you specifically interested in performing arts and visual arts, HKU University of the Arts Utrecht is the perfect place for you.
7. Rotterdam (4.04 stars)
- Student life: 3.86 stars
- Accommodation: 3.21 stars
- Internationality: 4.73 stars
Next, on the list of the best Dutch student cities, we have Rotterdam. The second city in the Netherlands in terms of population is also home to the biggest seaport in Europe and one of the best 100 universities in the world, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
EUR, which was established in 1913 and counts nearly 30,000 students, offers various programmes in the fields of Health, Wealth, Governance, and Culture. The international business school of EUR, Rotterdam School of Management, is triple-accredited (AMBA, EQUIS, and AACSB).
I loved everything about my University. EUR was a wonderful place to be even though I spent all my time in The Hague where my faculty was located as the International Institute of Social Studies(ISS). There was a very unique academic atmosphere. The faculty was amazing and world-class experience of it was amazing. The atmosphere is very international as well. I’ve graduated with students from 55 different nationalities. I’d definitely recommend to anyone who’s willing to expand their horizon and network.
For those of you who are interested in study International Business on a Bachelor’s level, Rotterdam Business School can be an alternative option. Moreover, with a student population of nearly 40,000 students, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences – HRO offers Bachelor and Master programmes in other areas of expertise.
8. Leiden (3.70 stars)
- Student life: 4.04 stars
- Accommodation: 2.54 stars
- Internationality: 4.12 stars
Leiden is a Dutch city famous for being one of Europe’s outstanding scientific centres for more than 400 years. More than 123,000 people live in Leiden, which is not far from The Hague and Amsterdam. Oxford is Leiden’s twin city.
Leiden University is one of the best institutions in Europe and one of the oldest in the Netherlands. It first opened its doors 445 years ago and it is now home to more than 29,000 students. The university offers a BSc in Economics, Public Administration and Management and an MSc in Economics and Consumer Psychology.
The university has an excellent faculty. Students gets proper attention individually. Research work is extensive and of good quality. The course work is relevant to present scenarios and updated. Constant exposure to real world situations.
9. Amsterdam (3.61 stars)
- Student life: 4.11 stars
- Accommodation: 3.11 stars
- Internationality: 3.83 stars
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands with a metropolitan area that counts nearly 2,5 million people. Believed to be the Venice of the North, Amsterdam is a very important financial centre of Europe. In fact, many multinational companies are headquartered there. In 2012, the Economist Intelligence Unit considered Amsterdam to be the second top place to live in.
In the last few years, the University of Amsterdam – UvA has been placed among the top 50 universities in the world. Five prime ministers of the country attended UvA. According to the QS Ranking by subject, the Media and Communication departments of UvA were considered to be the best in the world for two consecutive years, in 2018 and 2019. Amsterdam Business School, which is part of UvA, offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, MBA and Executive Education.
I had a great year doing my masters at the UvA, the professors were extremely helpful and were readily available to support with my thesis. My campus was in the city centre with a beautiful library. However the only downside to the UvA and Amsterdam in general is the housing issue. It is really difficult to find accommodation and if you don’t get student housing it is really expensive.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam – VU is the second largest University in Amsterdam. It is private but publicly funded since 1970.
If getting professional experience during your studies is important for you, you may want to consider HvA Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. At HvA, work placements are considered an important learning method, which is why students must have a practical work period whilst studying.
10. Groningen (3.10 stars)
- Student life: 3.94 stars
- Accommodation: 2.64 stars
- Internationality: 4 stars
In Groningen, the biggest Dutch city in the northern part of the country, 1 out of 4 is a student. The city that counts 231,000 inhabitants organizes the International Cycling Film Festival every year since 2016. It is also home to the Groninger Museum, which shows the artwork of both local and international artists.
The University of Groningen – RUG, which is 406 years old, represents more than 120 nationalities on campus and counts more than 32,000 students. It is one of the oldest universities in the countries and one of the best in the world (65th in 2019 according to ARWU). It offers 3 Bachelor’s and 13 Master’s in English in the field of Economics and Business.
The University of Groningen is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands. It ranks amongst the top 100 best universities in the world every year.
Its facilities are modern, innovative and up with the latest educational trends. The quality of teaching is very high.
I really enjoy the informal relationship between students and professors. Unlike other countries, it is much easier to talk to your professors in an informal tone.
Overall, I am very satisfied with the quality of teaching and facilities. Additionally, the university and the city of Groningen are extremely student and international-friendly, and you can get around everywhere in English without many problems.
Alternatively, students can also look into Hanze University of Applied Sciences – UAS, which offers programmes in Dutch, German and English to more than 28,000 students.
There are plenty of universities to choose from in the Netherlands. They all offer high-quality education and are spread all over the country. Your next student adventure abroad awaits. Is it going to be in the Netherlands?
If you are interested in finding out more about studying in the Netherlands then you may be interested in reading about the top universities for studying abroad in the Netherlands, or the 5 best business schools in the Netherlands
Editor’s note: This article was first published on the 25th of September 2020. We’ve updated it for current readers.