Studying in The Netherlands and the UK – Similarities & Differences

The UK and the Netherlands, are two very attractive countries for IB or A-Level students who want to go to university abroad. Both countries have world-class universities, with top European and global university rankings.

Both the UK and the Netherlands are two countries with a high quality of life, facilities for students, and a very attractive economic and employment structure for recent graduates.

That said, there are notable differences between universities in the two countries, which we’d like to discuss in this article in order to provide families with objective information to help them decide which of the two destinations best suits their goals and needs.

Costs and Prices

In general, and especially after Brexit, studying at a university in the Netherlands is cheaper than studying at a university in the UK, which explains why the number of international and European students in the Netherlands has grown significantly in recent years. However, the quality of British universities and the international profile and prestige they’ve built up over the last century make them an outstanding destination for students seeking a top-quality English-speaking university education.

University Costs UK The Netherlands
Annual university fee * £15,000 – £25,000 €3,000 – €6,000
Monthly accommodation in a hall or bedroom** £600 – £800 €400 – €800
Monthly cost of living, excluding accommodation** £500 – £600 €400 – €500

UK prices are in pounds, Dutch prices are in euros.
*Annual university fee intervals are based on official data from 2022.
**Monthly accommodation and cost of living are based on data from the Department of Education of the UK and the Netherlands.

What are the Best Universities in Each Country?

After analysing the price differences, many families want to find out which universities have the most prestige and best reputations within each country, in order to identify which options are the most suitable for each student. It’s worth noting that this is a more generic analysis, not focused on rankings of particular degree programmes; there are universities that rank lower in global rankings but excel in certain degree programmes and vice versa.

United Kingdom – The Russell Group

At Virtus, The British Sixth Form College, we know that the universities of the prestigious Russell Group are synonymous with guarantee and excellence, so it’s worth the financial and academic effort to study at any of them. Every year, many of our students at Virtus, The British Sixth Form College, Spain’s most personalised A-Level school, gain entry to the group’s universities to study a wide range of subjects in a variety of disciplines.
This group brings together the 24 most prestigious British universities, including Oxford, Manchester, Imperial College, Edinburgh, Warwick, and Nottingham, to name but a few. All of them are highly regarded worldwide, and their graduates tend to be very well accepted in all kinds of organisations and companies in every corner of the globe.

The Netherlands

Unlike in the UK or the American Ivy League, the Netherlands doesn’t have a unified group of universities featuring the most prestigious, well-funded, and internationally renowned universities. Therefore, we’ll list below some of the Dutch universities that stand out for their quality and track record. It should be noted that these Dutch universities offer university degrees in English and Dutch, so students should always make sure that the degree chosen at a particular university is taught entirely in English. This information is always given on the websites of each university and degree programme.

  • Delft Institute of Technology – Engineering
  • University of Maastricht – wide range of degrees
  • Erasmus Rotterdam University – Business and Economics
  • University of Leiden – Humanities
  • Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences – Sciences

Application Process – the UK and the Netherlands

One major benefit of application processes to UK and Dutch universities is they can be made through a centralised online platform and apply to different universities for a specific university degree course.

For universities in the UK, the process is carried out through the famous UCAS platform, allowing students to apply to five British universities for a given degree. You’ll need to provide your academic transcript, as well as a personal statement, i.e. a cover letter, and a written reference from your school. Some universities may ask for other things, such as an interview or a specific entrance exam for certain degrees, such as the BMAT for biomedical degrees or the PAT for physics. The application deadline for the UK is usually 15 January of the academic year prior to starting university.

For Dutch universities, the platform for applications is Studielink, which works similarly to the British platform UCAS. As for British universities, students will be required to submit their academic transcript from the last two years, a cover letter, a CV, and, in some universities, they will also be required to submit an essay on a subject related to the degree they are applying for or to answer a series of questions.

Virtus’ academic results align with our main objective: that all students gain access to their first or second choice university each year at the most prestigious institutions in the world. Principally, Virtus graduates are evenly distributed between the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain.

These countries continue to be the preferred destinations due to the outstanding education and job opportunities, although recently there have been students studying for their degree in the United States, Italy, Switzerland and Hungary, among others. The reputation of the universities they gain entrance to is proof of our persistent pursuit of excellence, helping each student to be the best version of themselves.

In conclusion, both the UK and the Netherlands are two ideal destinations for any student seeking the experience of studying at a prestigious and reputable international university. The UK remains the gold standard of European university education, with the best universities in the world and a strong education system recognised by organisations in every corner of the globe. The Netherlands nevertheless opens up a wealth of highly functional and well-recognised universities, with more affordable costs than their British counterparts and is enjoying increasing popularity as a destination for European university students.

Written by

Find a school