CITY AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Often before even considering the precise university of study, many students consider locational and lifestyle preferences and consequently the city to study in. Life choices in the city of study from ‘student life’ to potential job opportunities after graduation all play a role.
The Netherlands and its cities consistently rank highly regarding quality of life, making the country attractive to a broad number of students from different backgrounds.
Currently, there is much debate on the question if more internationalisation in higher education is desirable. This might affect the decision of international students for choosing the Netherlands as a place to study.
At the end of the day, this is one of the key considerations for any student: which institution to study at. The factors behind this are numerous but generally boil down to quality of education, availability of desired course of study (in English), recognition of Higher Education Institutions, research opportunities, alumni job prospects, and funding.
The Netherlands has a strong higher education system with all 13 of the national research universities consistently placing well in the international university rankings. Next to this, the Dutch higher education has the highest percentage of courses taught in English among non-English speaking countries in Europe.
That being said, the Netherlands lacks a ‘flagship’ university to compete with the best international universities for top professors, researchers, and students.
REGULATIONS AND VISA
While maybe not relevant for EU/EEA nationals, visas and stayback programmes are some of the most important considerations for students coming from outside Europe. The ease of obtaining a student visa as well as the opportunities for visas allowing a graduate to remain in the country to work or search for work can make or break a decision to even study in a particular country.
The Netherlands performs rather well in regard to this. Obtaining a student visa if accepted to a university in the country is trivial. Moreover, the country has a stayback visa for non-European Dutch university graduates allowing them to stay in the country for 12 months during which time they are freely allowed to work.
While this period is shorter in some countries, Germany for example performs better in this respect, having an 18-month stayback visa and an entrepreneurship visa that can lead to permanent residency. This is far more ideal for graduates, since this gives enough time to follow a half year internship followed by a first employment contract of one year.
STUDY TO WORK
The ability to find a job or develop a business in the country of study is often a critical factor in a student’s study destination decision. Language and the strength and growth of the local economy (the likeliness of being employed) is key.
Although there are differences between regions the Netherlands has a strong economy and many people speak English, making it a good place to study and find work after. There are currently plenty of jobs, especially in ICT and engineering. Moreover, the country is positioning itself to accommodate growing numbers of entrepreneurs.
Housing tends to be sought only after being accepted to university. In some tighter real estate markets, rent levels and the lack of adequate housing can make housing an insurmountable barrier for some students.
In general, student housing is more difficult to find and more expensive in the Netherlands than other parts of Europe. Especially more expensive student cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht can dissuade students from studying there, instead looking elsewhere.
If the university does not provide student housing, the most logical sources for students to find an accommodation would be to make use of his or her personal network, check the providers of student housing or short stay, and search the student housing platforms.
Data from HousingAnywhere show some insights on housing preferences of students in the Netherlands. On average, 35% of the students on their platform opt for a private studio instead of a room. This percentage is highest in The Hague and Delft. The average length of stay amongst national students is over 9½ months, while international students tend to book a bit shorter, on average, for about 7 months. Outliers are German students in Maastricht and Belgian students in Eindhoven, who stay for more than 10 months on average. In the end, however, almost 40% of all students prefer a contract duration of 3-6 months, and more than 20% even shorter than 3 months. Therefore, flexibility is key for student operators.