Information for parents and school counsellors

An introduction to studying in The Netherlands and at VU Amsterdam
The Dutch education system is one of the most innovative and forward thinking in the world. It’s based on student-led learning, analytical debate and hands-on experience. Dutch higher education has an international reputation for its high quality, which is maintained through a stringent national quality assurance system. All 14 research universities are in the top 200 of the Global Rankings.

Respect for each individual’s opinions and convictions are a national virtue. This is the foundation of the teaching method used in Dutch educational institutions. The teaching style can be described as interactive and student-centred, providing students with the attention and freedom they need to develop their own opinions and creativity in applying their newly acquired knowledge. 

Problem-based learning 

The Netherlands has received international acclaim for its ground-breaking problem-based learning system, which trains students to analyze and solve practical problems independently through emphasis on self-study and self-discipline.

A large part of all study programmes is dedicated to writing papers, working in groups to analyze and solve specific problems, acquiring practical work experience through internships, and conducting experiments in laboratories.

Interaction in class

Interaction in class is highly appreciated. Students are expected to think about the knowledge that is presented to them and develop and express their own opinions. They should not be passive, but ask questions and be critical of what lecturers or fellow students say.

Learning the language 

Working together in an international classroom should pose no problems, as everyone speaks English on an academic level. Nevertheless, it would be beneficial to be able to mingle in conversations in Dutch and contribute to discussions in Dutch between local classmates. This may make working in groups even more interesting and meaningful. The university's language center Taalcentrum VU offers several Dutch courses, as does our Dutch as a second language institute.

Amsterdam was deemed among the top 12 cities worldwide in terms of quality of life by Mercer’s 2018 Quality of Living survey. Amsterdam, famous for its historical buildings and canals, is a multifaceted city bustling with knowledge, commerce, creativity and innovation. The tolerant atmosphere and open-mindedness of its inhabitants form an inviting setting for scientists, entrepreneurs and artists alike, who often work together, inspiring and stimulating one another. It is this dynamic and challenging environment that attracts students to the city. 

Is Amsterdam a safe city?

Amsterdam, though the capital of the Netherlands, is a small city with a pleasant atmosphere that will make you soon feel at home. Amsterdam was listed as one of the top six safest cities worldwide in the 2017 Safe Cities Index. In this index, Amsterdam scored highly for both infrastructure and personal safety. Students also indicate that they view Amsterdam as a safe place to live. In the pan-European 'International Student Barometer', 96% of the international students polled were satisfied with safety. 

Our university also has an active role in identifying, preventing and mitigating security risks.

As you may know, the ways in which studying abroad is beneficial to one’s self-development and skills are countless. For instance, students studying in Amsterdam almost naturally gain valuable language skills in English and Dutch, or sometimes even other languages —Imagine living in a student house with five different nationalities. At some point you are bound to pick up some new words and cultural habits.

Furthermore, graduates gain skills such as intercultural sensitivity, flexibility and open-mindedness which makes them more competitive on the job market. These days it is essential to gain experiences of living abroad if one wants to find a job in one of the bigger firms . So why not choose for a complete degree programme abroad?

When applying

The faculty’s International Student Advisors (ISA) are there to help with any questions regarding the application procedure, admissions process, possible scholarship applications and any other information related to the study.

When admitted

The Services team of the International Office will assist students with finding accommodation and applying for a visa and/or residence permit (if applicable).

When arriving

VU International Office organizes an introduction week for international students in August, in which all kinds of practical matters can be arranged, besides attending all kinds of social and intercultural events.  

During studies

The Student Career Support will organize various events such as the annual career event and CV workshops, interview trainings and meet & greets with companies. There are Q&A sessions throughout the academic year, and we have student counsellors, student psychologists and a student desk which students can approach with any specific question they may have. Extra guidance and support are offered to students with a disability. Other facilities include study and student associationsInternational Student Desklibrarysports and the Cultural Center Griffioen.

Living costs: Experience shows that living and studying in Amsterdam for one year costs a student between €1000 and €1,100 per month. More information on costs of living.

Study Costs: More information on annual tuition fees.

More and more international students that study in Amsterdam, also wish to start their first job in the area. The stay rate in the Netherlands as a whole is 25% with the highest numbers in Amsterdam, which is explained by the presence of many international companies.

To guide students in finding a job, and more important even, in finding a matching career, we offer career development services.