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Study in the Netherlands
Study in the Netherlands

The Netherlands or Holland as it is popularly known is a constitutional monarchy with one of the most stable economies in all of Europe. The capital city of the Netherlands is the beautiful city of Amsterdam but the seat of the government is at 'The Hague'. With a population of nearly 16.5 million people the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. Nearly a third of the Netherlands is below sea-level and for a long time the Dutch have constructed dykes and barricades to ensure that their lands do not get flooded by sea-water. Nearly 40% of the country's population lives in the area referred to as the Randstad; the area that is made up by the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Dutch, German and English are spoken by most people. The Netherlands is home to such world-famous companies like Philips, Unilever, Rabobank, KPMG, Endemol, Elsevier and much more. This proves once again that it is not the size of a nation but the ambitions of the people of a nation that contributes to its economic growth.

Over the years the Netherlands has changed from being just an industrial and tourist centre to become a hub of higher education. This is mainly because since the early 1990s leading Dutch institutions have begun offering a select few courses to international students, which are taught in English.

The Netherlands is renowned for its technical, scientific and engineering courses. In the QS World Rankings there are six institutions from the Netherlands, which feature in the top universities of the world. These are as follows:

Here's a look at the current top six Dutch universities as per the QS Rankings 2013:

  1. University of Amsterdam - 58rd position internationally
  2. Leiden University - 74th position internationally
  3. Utrecht University - 81st position internationally
  4. Erasmus University, Rotterdam - 92nd position internationally
  5. Delft University of Technology - 95th position internationally
  6. University of Groningen - 97th position internationally

Should you Study in the Netherlands?

Most students do not have the Netherlands in their list of study abroad destinations because they think that the courses are taught in Dutch; and they will have to learn a new language and focus on learning the nuances of the Dutch language. This is true to a certain extent as a majority of the institutions offer their courses in Dutch but since the 1990s more and more premier Dutch institutions are offering a select few courses for international students, which are taught in English. This does not mean that the student should not learn Dutch. Picking up a new language is useful and one may even land a job in the Netherlands on completion of the course.

Key Points:

The courses are extremely challenging and are designed for the best minds. Opportunities for postgraduate research in areas like electronics, computer science and engineering are high. Limited scholarships are offered by most institutions. The standard of living is quite high and opting for accommodation in student hostels or a home-stay will enable students to save money. Being a progressive economy the prices of essential commodities are high; but one can save money by shopping at weekly farmer markets that are held in most major towns.

Living in the Netherlands:

The Dutch are a friendly bunch of people; lovers of football, fine art, technology, good food and drink would be a generic description of most Dutch people. For someone visiting the Netherlands from Asia some things can be shocking - consumption of 'soft drugs' is legal and hash burgers are popular, lesbian and gay rights are respected seriously and no discrimination is made. The Dutch are seriously progressive thinkers and there is a genuine respect for the state and the law.

Places to visit:

The Holland Pass is the best way to visit and enjoy all leading tourist-sites in Holland and is priced according to the validity of the pass. Some of the popular tourist-spots are:

The flower fields of Leiden and Den Helder and the tulip gardens along the route from Leiden to Haarlem are a must-visit. Cycling down the roads adjoining the tulip-fields as a misty fragrance of the flowers envelopes you is a special experience. The canals of Amsterdam are as picturesque at the canals of Venice and 17th century canal ring area in Amsterdam is a UNESCO certified Heritage site. The Royal Palace and the Museum are iconic landmarks; the 350 year old Royal Palace is witness to many of the historical moments that changed the political scenario of Europe. The Van Gogh Museum attracts over 1.5 million visitors every year; remarkable considering that he only sold one painting when he was alive. Most visitors combine this visit along with a trip to the Rijksmuseum.

The Way Ahead:

The Netherlands is in no way less expensive than the UK - in most aspects the prices and cost of living are very similar. Students who wish to try something different and explore life in the Netherlands with a focus on top-notch research-centric courses might wish to apply to study in the Netherlands.

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