Studying in the Netherlands
The Netherlands, sometimes known as Holland, is a small country with a rich and unique cultural tradition. The Dutch are widely recognised for their openness and hospitality. These characteristics are reflected in the way they teach and learn. Dutch education is discussion-based and focuses heavily on problem-based learning.
There are two types of universities in the Netherlands - universities and universities of applied science. University courses tend to be more research-orientated and constitute three years of study (180 credits) whereas universities of applied science offer courses that are more practical and career-focused and require four years of study (240 credits) instead. International students can choose to enrol in these universities or in the institutes for international education which offer courses conducted in English.
Although Malaysians need not apply for a visa for a period of stay not exceeding three months in the Netherlands, students enrolled in courses that require a longer stay must apply for an MVV or provisional residence before flying off to the country. Apply for the right visa or risk being prohibited from entering the country and turned away by customs upon arrival.
To apply, you will need:
- A valid passport
- An enrolment letter from a recognised Dutch institution
- Proof that you can support yourself financially during your stay
- Other documents as required by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The MVV is valid for six months and is a single-entry visa. Hence, upon arriving in the Netherlands, you will need to report to the Aliens Police and your institution will help you apply for a 'residence permit'. This permit must be renewed for every year of study.
Language of instruction
Mainly Dutch. Nevertheless, the Netherlands has more than 2,100 international study programmes that are taught entirely in English.
To enrol in a Dutch programme, you will need to prove your proficiency in Dutch by taking the Certificate of Dutch as a Foreign Language (CnaVT). You will also need to provide evidence of your English speaking abilities through English Language Tests such as the IELTS and TOEFL.
Students with a valid residence permit are allowed to work part-time for up to ten hours a week during the academic session and full-time during the summer months of June, July and August. Bear in mind that all jobs, including part-time ones, are subject to monthly deductions for income tax and social security contributions in the Netherlands. The cuts can add up and sometimes take up to one-third of your pay. Considering that scholarships are considered taxable income in the system, you may end up receiving less income with a part-time job, than without one! On the other hand, paid internships are exempted from income tax if it is relevant to your course of study.
Dutch tuition fees for non-EU students range between RM28,650 and RM71,630 per year depending on the field of study and the prestige of the course and institution.
Living in the Netherlands
Most students spend an average of RM3,820 to RM4,770 a month while studying in the Netherlands. This covers food, transport, books, clothes, accommodation, insurance and entertainment. Cycling is a common mode of transport among the Dutch, so get yourself a second-hand bike to cut down living costs while maintaining your level of fitness. The railway network there is also well connected, providing dependable service to travel from one city to another with ease. Rail cards are great investments for frequent travellers.
As a student (more so if you are an international one) you are entitled to student discounts at cinemas, restaurants and museums among other places. Get your institution to issue you an International Student Identity Card to take advantage of these privileges. Housing is an apparent and persistent problem near university towns. However, your institution may make arrangements for you, so be sure to grab the room as soon as it is offered. Monthly room rent is between RM1,430 and RM2,860.
You can purchase return tickets at RM3,300 onwards from KL to Amsterdam on a local carrier.
You will have to purchase private healthcare insurance, especially when you are employed on a part-time or full-time basis. The insurance can be purchased in Malaysia or upon arrival, but the coverage should be valid throughout your stay.
If you have good grades, you should consider getting a scholarship to pursue your study in the Netherlands. Prominent scholarship providers for bachelor's degree programmes include the HSP Huygens Programme and the Amsterdam Merit Scholarship (AMS). In addition, there are also various university-sponsored grants for full-time students who got accepted to study selected courses or areas of focus in those institutions.
Royal Netherlands Embassy
218, Jalan Ampang, Kampung Datok Keramat, 55000 Kuala Lumpur