The Netherlands, frequently called Holland, is a small country in Europe with an enormous influence in the world. With its liberal ideology and openness to ideas, the government is a model for forward-thinking societies.

The Netherlands is known for its bicycle-friendly cities and sustainable communities. Tourists marvel at the windmills and tulip fields in the countryside, while cathedrals and canals in the cities leave people astonished. Delftware, delicious cheese, and world-famous beers are iconic influences of the Dutch. Furthermore, it has given the world artists and scholars like Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Christian Huygens, and Desiderius Erasmus.

More than that, the Nertherlands is one of the leading country in providing quality education. They have a lot of universities that ranks globally. If you’re interested in studying here, this article will help you decide what university to enter. In the article below, we listed the best universities you can find in the Netherlands!

Is the Netherlands Good for International Students to Study in?

International students are highly-satisfied with first-class learning, excellent research, and overall high quality of living in the Netherlands. Nearly all of the universities in the country appear in various international rankings, whether leading in subject areas or through recognition of research work.

A genuinely welcoming country, 95% of locals speak English and are very open to self-expression and sharing of information. Several internationally recognized degrees are taught in English too. Moreover, tuition fees in Dutch universities are relatively low since the government subsidizes them. The cost of living in Holland is affordable as well, considering you’ll be staying in one of the safest and most beautiful countries in the world.

Check Also: Programs in Europe for International Students

Can International Students Work in the Netherlands While Studying?

International students can work in the Netherlands alongside their studies with very few considerations. If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, you can work freely without a permit and have no limits on the number of work hours. If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss student, you can work up to 16 hours a week or full-time in the summer (June to August). You will need a valid residence permit and a work permit. For internships and volunteering work, there is no work permit requirement.

For non-EU/EEA/Swiss students, your work permit is processed by your employer with the Immigration office, on which there are two types to consider. For less than three months of work, your employer will apply for a standard work permit (TWV). For jobs longer than three months, your employer will apply for a work permit combined with a residence permit (GVVA).

Can International Students Stay in the Netherlands After Graduation?

After graduation, international students can stay in the Netherlands by applying for an orientation year. This 1-year search permit, or zoekjaar, allows you to join the Dutch labor market wherein employers do not need to apply for a work permit. The goal is to be hired as a Highly-Skilled Migrant.

Once you find employment as a Highly-Skilled Migrant, you become eligible for a residence permit. You can find more information, such as valid travel documents and medical test requirements, at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) website. If you don’t find employment after 12 months, you can acquire other types of residence permit to work.

Best Universities in the Netherlands for International Students

1. Wageningen University & Research (Wageningen UR)

The Wageningen University & Research is a public research university specializing in life and social sciences. Wageningen University & Research has been the best university in the Netherlands for the past 15 years and is leading worldwide in agricultural sciences, plant sciences, food science, and environment and ecology. Wageningen UR carries out field-based research in over ten institutes in food safety, livestock, dairy farming, economic analysis, and more. They collaborate with the government, non-profit organizations, and international institutes.

Wageningen UR achieved its goal of becoming carbon neutral in 2015. The university’s dedication to the living environment extends to its whole community, and students will surely experience a holistic perspective of education.

2. University of Amsterdam (UvA)

The University of Amsterdam is a public research university and the largest in the Netherlands in terms of enrollment. This top university in the Netherlands for international students comprises seven faculties: social and behavioral science, humanities, economics and business, law, science, medicine, and dentistry. It is the highest-ranking European institution in Social Sciences. International students in UvA have over 200 English-taught programs to choose from, one of the broadest offers in Europe.

UvA stands for cutting-edge research in European studies, Brain and Cognition, Global Digital Cultures, and Humane AI, to mention a few. Aside from academic excellence, UvA’s extensive library and museums contain special collections on the history of Europe and the world. UvA’s location in the beautiful city of Amsterdam caps a rewarding academic experience.

3. Leiden University (LEI)

Leiden University is the oldest higher education institution in the Netherlands. LEI is best known for its dedication to the social sciences and is high-ranking in history, arts & humanities linguistics, pharmacology, archaeology, public policy, and several others. LEI’s research leads in many fields, including life sciences, natural sciences, international law, and astronomy.

LEI was established in 1575 to reward the town of Leiden with their resistance against Spanish invaders. It lives by the motto ‘bastion of freedom’, which stands for diversity and inclusiveness in the modern-day. Indeed, the university promotes liberty of knowledge and welcomes international students from over 120 countries every year.

4. Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Erasmus University Rotterdam is a leading university in the Netherlands, especially with clinical medicine and social sciences. Its Medical Center is the largest university medical center in the country. Business & economics courses are also renowned in the university. Financial Times ranked EUR among the top business schools in Europe. Furthermore, the university has seven faculties offering quality education in the health sciences, health policy, economics, law, behavioral science, history, and philosophy.

EUR is a multicultural environment with international students comprising 20% of the student population. Its overall initiatives include international collaborations, smarter choices for better health, and increased contribution to cities.

5. Utrecht University (UU)

Utrecht University, one of the best universities in the Netherlands for international students, is a research university known for its innovative approach to teaching and research. It is the most influential institution worldwide in climate and ecosystem research. Furthermore, UU aced subject rankings where it placed in the top 10 worldwide. These subjects are Veterinary Science, Pharmacology, Reproductive Biology, Public Administration, and Geography. Research in UU focuses on open societies, dynamics of youth, sustainability, and life sciences.

From 1636 to this day, UU stands by its motto gleaned from Malachi 4:2. The verse means to be enlightened by the sun. Indeed, the university moves towards horizons through curiosity, optimism, and determination to contribute to the world.

6. Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

The Delft University of Technology is the Netherlands’ largest technological university. It began as the Royal Academy for engineering education of civil servants. Presently, it has over 40 technical-scientific disciplines organized into eight faculties. The subject areas of Civil & Structural Engineering, Architecture, and Mechanical Engineering rank among the top 5 in the world. The university’s research is characterized by its Delft approach, which means an interplay between teaching, research, and application disciplines.

TU Delft has one of the largest campuses in the world with an integrated bike network, parks, a flight simulator, a botanical garden, and more. This vibrant academic community is home to nearly 5000 international students.

7. University of Groningen (UG)

The University of Groningen is the second-oldest university in the Netherlands and voted the best in the country, as reported by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). This time-honored university has been providing quality education in a broad scope of disciplines. Humanities, economics, spatial science, natural science, and technology are some of its high-regarded study areas. Furthermore, the university delivers vital research in chemistry, astronomy, ecology, and material science.

This top university in the Netherlands blends its longstanding academic tradition with an innovative and global outlook. UG has one of the largest international communities with 6000 students from 120 nationalities.

8. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam literally translates to “Free University,” which pertains to its independence from the State and the Dutch Reformed Church. Moreover, it also denotes the university’s open organization and substantial relationship to society. VU is organized into nine faculties of the traditional academic disciplines while outstanding in Clinical Health, Social Science, Life and Agricultural Science, and Business and Economics.

VU follows an interdisciplinary approach in its research, focusing on sustainability, information technology, and corporate social responsibility. The university offers 150 English-taught programs, including Computer Science, Business Analytics, and International Business Administration.

9. Maastricht University (UM)

Maastricht University is the youngest among Dutch universities yet has established an international standing. It has been awarded ‘Distinctive Quality Feature for Internationalisation’ and placed 4th in the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings. Financial Times also included UM in the top 25 best business programs in the world. In specific subject areas, the university excels in Clinical, Pre-clinical & Health, and Business and Economics.

The university was established in 1976 primarily for medical training. Today, in addition to medicine, UM provides first-class teaching in psychology and neuroscience, arts and social science, economics, engineering, and law. Furthermore, research at UM focuses on innovation, quality of life, and issues of a globalizing world.

10. Radboud University (RU)

Radboud University Nijmegen is recognized as the best comprehensive university in the Netherlands for many years. It is also known for its prolific research output and scientific contributions. The first picture of a black hole was an accomplishment of this prestigious university. Physics is undeniably the university’s strong suit. Nonetheless, RU is also excellent in law, business, political science, sociology, and theology.

Radboud University provides full English Bachelor’s programs in many subjects. Some of them are Artificial Intelligence, Computing Science, Chemistry, Biology, American Studies, Language and Culture, and International Economics. In RU, you are guaranteed high-quality teaching and outstanding research opportunities.


I hope that this article on the best universities in the Netherlands for international students was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Programs in Europe for International Students to know more information!