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University in the Netherlands?

(3 Posts)
purpledasies Fri 04-Dec-15 13:42:15

Just been reading this article about students studying in the Netherlands. My DS is Y11 at the mmoment but already talking about taking a gap year, working abroad etc - and has school friends from all over the world. I could see this suiting him quite well - he'd most likely be studying either engineering or computer science.

Does anyone have any experience of studying abroad? We're fortunate enough that we'd be able to afford to pay/loan him the costs of living and (small) tuition fees. What are Dutch degrees like, compared with UK ones?

disquisitiones Fri 04-Dec-15 14:20:05

This topic has been discussed a few times on this board and most academics (including myself) advise caution: be very careful to look into exactly what is being offered.

A number of Dutch universities are well-respected and within the world top 100 and top 200. Unlike the UK, Holland does not have universities which are top 20 world-wide overall, although specific departments can be world class. Such rankings are based more on research rather than teaching and in Holland teaching often takes a back seat in many STEM departments so teaching ratings would probably be lower. Academics in Holland are under strong pressure to get research funding and once they do they can buy themselves out of teaching, often leaving teaching to junior temporary lecturers.

Unlike the UK, quality assurance in teaching is almost non-existent; there is no comparable system of external examiners checking the level and quality of courses. Also unlike the UK it is common for a three year degree to take more than three years: quite a few students will take an extra year. The fees are cheaper, because they are subsidised by the state, but the overall amount of money available for teaching related resources is not comparable to the UK. Compare engineering teaching labs in Holland with those at top engineering institutions in the UK to see this.

Under the Bologna process, a Bachelors degree is comparable with a UK Bachelors degree but you should bear in mind that many jobs within Holland/continental Europe would require a two year Masters degree as well. This might sound irrelevant right now, but after three years in a country he might well want to stay there, especially if he has a local girlfriend.

If he did want to come back to the UK, he would probably face the issue that UK employers do not generally know how to rank Dutch courses, nor do they know how to interpret Dutch grade transcripts. He would miss the standard UK milk rounds too.

Finally, Groningen has indeed expanded the number of courses they give in English, basically because they recruit less Dutch students: Groningen is in the North, many Dutch students live in the South and go to universities near to where they live. But most other universities only have limited selections of courses which are given in English, many of which are liberal arts type programmes. Delft is considered the strongest place for engineering but I don't think their courses are in English.

Other issues: Dutch culture is different to the UK (not necessarily a bad thing, but maybe a shock at the beginning); life in Holland is not that cheap. The BBC article quotes costs in Groningen (which is cheaper) but the cost of living in cities such as Amsterdam or Delft would be much higher.

purpledasies Fri 04-Dec-15 16:22:44

Thanks, that's really helpful. A lot to think about.

I've not seen other discussions on this board, but don't often look on this board as my DC aren't yet Uni age. I'll have a look for some previous threads on the subject.

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