Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (‘VU Amsterdam’) is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 175 English-taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD levels to more than 26,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 122 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community.Show more
I liked the program and learned a lot! The professors were very good and the tutors were really lovely and helpful! The courses were interesting and diverse. There are a lot of international students so it is easy to make friends even if you are from abroad. The program was challenging at times but I believe it is a good base to continue to master’s programs. The accommodation situation is a nightmare in Amsterdam so be prepared for that, the university also cannot help everyone with accommodation.View more
First, the campus:
The university is located in the Amsterdam-Zuid area, where the campus consists of several buildings scattered around the neighbourhood, which is typical for universities in the Netherlands.
The campus is very easily accessible, can be reached in under one hour from any Amsterdam neighbourhood or surrounding cities by public transport. There are however absolutely no parking facilities for cars, which are restricted to the surrounding public parking lots at 6€ per hour. Possible improvements could be to provide such service for students who arrive by car, or at least to provide parking fee reduction models for students and staff, and to facilitate car-sharing through some internal or external media. It is easiest accessible by bicycle or motorbike, both of which can park at the large bicycle stand area in front of the main building.
The architecture is well planned, maps are available, and the campus is overall very easy to navigate once there. Despite the large campus area, one can quickly arrive at any place without problems. However, the room codes can be non-intrinsic at the beginning, and one might need to reflect to interpret the precise location. Regarding food and drinks, The university counts with a cafeteria in the main building, several not too expensive vending machines. There is also a gas station (for e.g. tobacco) and an independent kebab truck, the latter being extremely expensive in regards to the quality, which can be explained by the lack of competition. Toilets are indicated by well-visible signs, can be found at practically every corner of the campus, and usually don´t lack cleanliness.
While the university does provide housing opportunities, there is only so much that they can do regarding the global housing crisis, which is especially noticeable in Amsterdam. Waiting times can stretch way over 6 months, and while the student apartments are a lot cheaper than any publicly listed location, they are still priced higher than in most cities and are by far not affordable without a loan, income, or savings. This is however not a blame to be put on the university, since they have always been courteous and do their best to help.
The IT structure and internal tools are mentionable, they have recently been even further expanded to adapt to the pandemic and now offer every imaginable service online – from personal dashboards and time management tools, over a highly optimized (and packed with motivated staff) student help desk, to small tools like a lost and found system. Since there is a myriad of tools at the students’ disposition, I cannot analyze each individual software here. Lost items can be collected at the so-called security desk. It is located in the basement of the main building and displays high-end security and CCTV tech alongside an impressively formidable security team which instantly provides a feeling of safety. Furthermore, there is an online campus system, through which resources are made available and teachers can be contacted (and respond quickly).
There is a large library available with all required textbooks to be lent, as well as an internal shop offering all the required resources for purchase.
It is indeed noticeable that there is a huge diversity as well as mutual respect. There is an overall feeling of mutual respect and openness to learning from other cultural backgrounds. The pool of students and staff is very heterogeneous, with people from all ages, nations, and faiths. Individuality is embraced and cultural interaction is encouraged. There are even prayer rooms available for staff and students of Muslim faith (only Muslim due to the requirement of punctual acts of prayer). Both students and teachers are generally very open and sociable, which is for example reflected in the creation of a WhatsApp group for each workgroup.
Admission and registration process: The application is very straightforward, the staff is always available for any inquiries, and the admission officers are open to individual differences and inconveniences, it is probably even possible to be admitted despite lacking the precise technical criteria as long as motivation and uniqueness are convincing. This last characteristic seems omnipresent throughout the programme (maybe throughout the university), there is a sense of interdependency between students, staff, and institutions where each one always remains open to learning from the other and our differences.
Due to the pandemic, most classes were available online. I would say we can divide the subjects taught here into two categories. “soft skill” and “hard skill”, or “qualitative vs. quantitative”, two categories that work together and rely on each other.
The aforementioned notion of multi-culture and openness is what makes the whole programme so unique, not only do we “learn from life” and “learn from each other”, but there is even some kind of “metaphysical” sense where learning is not only theoretic but a very intuitive, mind-opening, sometimes meditative, and even transcendental experience. This notion of opening sensitivity is then paired with and backed by the more theoretical subjects, in some way, we first learn to “feel” in order to then be able to “understand”.
While this concept of “living education” has been highly put under pressure due to the pandemic, the teachers are very professional, highly motivated, therein still, or even more so, open-minded, and passionate about their subjects, and handled the situation to perfection providing always the most ideal alternative.
Management by itself is a discipline required in all industries without exception. Therefore, while competition could be fierce, there are lots of different outcomes and further specializations. The discipline is taught here in a unique way, far from the grey classrooms and soul-less textbooks but instead delivered interactively as a real-life, hands-on experience, and from a perspective that definitely allows the graduate to differentiate him/herself from others, more conservative candidates.
Yes, I highly recommend this programme/university IF the lifestyle suits one’s own individual personality. Minds are opened, borders blurred, and even reality itself opens up to whole new definitions. All in all, the programme and especially the dedicated teacher provide a truly transformative experience, preparing the student to stand out from the crowd both ideologically and technically.
I study Artificial Intelligence and I love my program, but due to the actual circumstances, the vast majority of the program is taught online but exams have to be taken in person. This means that people from all over the world (taking into account that many students that study Computer Science come from Asia) have to assist twice or three times per period (2 months) to take their exams. If the whole program is online; so should the exams be. If the program is taught in person, students have a rational choice to take. For the rest, it is alrightView more
I liked the workgroups and practicals that made the degree more interesting and fun. I did not like the huge amount of content that we had to learn in such a little time. Self-studying was a lot more than I expected. The schedule could have been better so that it would be less stressful for us to learn the content. More time should have been given before exams. My degree did not feel that internationalView more
I just started my first year and I may say that I love the experience at the VU Amsterdam. The programme for Psychology is very good so far, although some of the professors could improve their way of teaching, but, at the end of every course, you always have the opportunity to give them constructive feedback so they can improve. You should keep in mind that if you start studying Psychology there will be a lot of reading and, well, studying required, you have to dedicate a lot of your time to that (but it’s not a bad thing if that is what you really want to do)! The courses are very interesting and sometimes it could be a bit overwhelming, but you only take two courses at a time, which is great! You have the opportunity to take a resit if you fail an exam, and if you fail again, you also have the opportunity to retake the course. Overall, I may say – so far, so good and that I really enjoy studying in this environment!View more
The Psychology department of Vrije University Amsterdam is great because we are always provided with the resources that we need and if we require any help we are always able to contact any staff and always are guaranteed fast response. Additionally, the application process is great and I received fast updates before attending the university. Now in my third year, I’ve grown to know the uni very well and can see that the staff really care about their students and the wellbeing of everyone attending, with many options to receive help, whether it’s for studying purposes or struggling with mental health. Overall, I would highly recommend attending Vu, it’s great!View more
I would recommend it, however skills in python are extremely required, you basically need it for each subject and if you do not have AI background make a course before you apply. Additionally, knowledge in Mathematics, linear algebra and depending on your track could be health, cognition or AI itself.View more
I follow the international track of cultural anthropology at the VU. The courses are broad and taught by professors with knowledgeable and experienced backgrounds. Some courses are neat and well-structured, whereas others are less organized. However, going fully online from one day to another had its repercussions. The campus is located in a nice area of the city. The buildings are spacious. I must say that there’re not enough green areas around campus yet, but nothing is really far when you got your Amsterdam bike with you!View more
There are many aspects to consider when choosing a university. For me, one of the most important is the extracurricular activities. I was very surprised to realize that many extracurricular activities in VU Amsterdam were aimed to help students improve their well-being. There were activities focusing on a large range of subjects, from better time management to coping with loss. Additionally, it is always possible to have a meeting with your student advisor, if you have a special request or particular problem.View more
My Master’s program at VU Amsterdam has offered me opportunities to grow and challenge myself. Additionally, I get to complete two internships that will help me build important relationships for future career paths.View more