Guide to Postgraduate Funding in the Netherlands

Postgrad funding in the Netherlands

These days, many British students are finding it difficult to get postgraduate funding to study in Holland because of changes to Dutch student loans and grants in 2015. So which funding options are still available for postgraduates studying at Dutch universities? Are British students eligible for any Master's grants and schorlarships in the Netherlands? How does the Dutch tuition fee loan scheme "Collegegeldkrediet" actually work?

If an effort to clarify important information about financial support in the Netherlands, we published "A Guide to Dutch Student Finance for British Students" on our website designed to assist British and Irish students in pursuing their university education in the Netherlands.

Now, we'd like to give British prospective Master's students a few extra tips on how to get student loans and find postgraduate funding in the Netherlands in 2016. Although this guide won't tell you any secrets or steps to a successful scholarship application, following the advice and instructions below will help you think more strategically and realistically about postgraduate funding search.

You might also want to check out our useful guides to postgraduate study, application process and costs of living in the Netherlands.

Postgraduate tuition fees in the Netherlands

Standard tuition fees in 2016/17 at research universities in the Netherlands are EUR 1,984 (GBP 1,542) for most postgraduate courses. Bear in mind, however, that many Master's programmes, particularly in subjects like the sciences or for MSc degrees, can take two years to complete rather than the one year that is more common in the UK. These fees are set by the Government and in 2017 they will increase in line with inflation.

Postgraduate courses at Dutch universities of applied sciences and at private institutions are more expensive, usually around EUR8,500 (GBP 6,150) - EUR 10,500 (GBP 7,590) a year. This is because they are not subsidised by the Government. Students who take these programmes are usually sponsored by their employers. This doesn't mean if you are a self-funded student, you should rule out the option of getting a Master's degree from a university of applied sciences. Postgraduate courses at universities of applied sciences often include a period of work experience, internship or placement. Their curricula are vocational-orentied with the goal of preparing students for immediate employment after graduation. If you are planning to work in the hospitality, tourism, media, engineering or logistics sectors, getting a postgraduate qualification from a university of applied sciences might be a smarter decision.

Living in the Netherlands costs as much as EUR 12,000 per year. Together with the tuition fees, the total costs of doing Master's degree programme could go up to EUR 30,000 - EUR 40,000. Studying in Holland is therefore frankly a cost-effective option compared to doing postgraduate study in the UK, but it's not neccessarily cheap. Indeed a Master's degree is always a long-term investment with a couple of short-term financial problems.

If you're still determined to "go Dutch" for your Master's degree and thinking about getting postgraduate funding, here's a few key points you need to know about Dutch student finance for British students.

Can British students get a postgradute tuition fee loan in the Netherlands?

Yes, the good news is tuition fee loans are available for the full amount of the tuition fee for postgraduate study at Dutch research universities. The loan scheme that you would benefit from as a Master's student in the Netherlands is called "Collegegeldkrediet". It is NOT run by the British government, but by the Dutch government. Really? Why?

Unlike in the UK, Dutch students are funded by the Government through their higher education up to and including postgraduate study at research universities. Fortunately the European Union dictates that all EU citizens must be treated equally, so Brits are automatically eligible for a tuition fee loan from the Dutch government if they reside in the Netherlands throughout their studies.

Of courses tuition fee loans are offered under certain conditions:

  • You must be under the age of 30 when you start your postgraduate course. This will change from September 2017. From then you can only get access to a tuition fee loan in the Netherlands if you are under 55 years old at the start of your Master's degree.
  • You must have a Dutch bank account. Opening a bank account in the Netherlands doesn't need to be complicated. We will publish a step-by-step guide to settling down in Holland, including opening a bank account, very soon.
  • You must have a Dutch “burgerservicenummer” (citizen service number) which you will only receive when you have a permanent address in the Netherlands. Again, this will be explained in more details in our "Guide to Settling Down in Holland".

How does Collegegeldkrediet work (for British students)?

If you receive a Collegegeldkrediet loan, it will be paid directly into your bank account in monthly instalments (currently EUR 158.83 a month) and it is your responsibility to pay the university. Therefore, it is extremely important that you manage your montly personal budget carefully so that your tuition fees are paid on time and in the correct amount.

Some universities however require Master's students to pay full tuition fees upfront for the whole year of at the start of each semester. This means the day you have to pay your tuition fees and the day you receive the loan might not be the same! To add to the problem is the fact that Collegegeldkrediet does not give students the option of getting their full tuition fee loan all at once. All you can do is to plan your cashflow well in advance.

You have to pay interest on Collegegeldkrediet, just like any other student loans in the land. This is applied from the day you take out the loan. The current interest rate is 0.81%.

You will start repaying your tuition fee loan two years after graduation. The amount that you need to repay each month is EUR 45.41. The loan must be repaid in full over a maximum period of 15 years and could not be written off automatically after that time. Most importantly, you will have to repay the loan in full even if you do not complete your Master's degree or if you leave the Netherlands.

You can apply for the loan at any point up to 31st January in the academic year for which you wish to claim.

The current application form is here.

Can British students get grants for Master's degrees in the Netherlands?

There are now no grants automatically available to Brits doing postgraduate study in the Netherlands. As of 2015 grants will not be part of the Dutch student financial support. There may still be Master's grants available in individual circumstances, but they are extremely rare and most often depend on the subject that you wish to study.

We've identified the following grants that British students are eligible for. Again, these grants are not automatically available to you - you need to apply for them:

  • ISS Hardship Fund: provides a fee discount of up to 30% of the tuition fee for students who cannot afford to pay the entire tuition fee. Only open to social and behavioural sciences students.
  • A Closer Europe: awards £2,000 and the a paid internship in Berlin. Open to students enrolled in Master's programmes in Arts and Humanities, Business Administration and Management, Communication, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Service, Tourism and Leisure, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Transport and Communication.

Can British students get a scholarship from a Dutch university?

Yes, Dutch universities offer a wide range of merit-based scholarships for both taught and research Master's students. The best place to check information about these scholarships is your chose Dutch university's website, because if a university decides to invest on a new scholarship programme, where else will they announce it first?

Here we give you a list of a few university scholarships that British students are eligible for:

Have you tried to find a scholarship somewhere else?

Postgraduate scholarships awarded not only by universities, but also by other organisations:

You can also find funding opportunities from professors, especially if you are thinking to do a research masters programme or eventually get a PhD. The best way to find this type of funding is through personal contact with professors. You can check the Faculty's website to see if any member of the Faculty is working the same research area with you and approach the professor via email or even meeting in person.

We always find the opportunity to talk British postgraduate students who had creative ways of getting postgraduate funding. Andy Heyes, who got a scholarship from Steden University of Applied Sciences after offering to do some marketing work for the University, kindly shared his inspiring story and useful tips on finding postgrad scholarships in an interview before.

If you have got a postgraduate scholarships to study in Holland and would like to share your story, advice and tips with other British students, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

Useful resources to search for funding for Master's courses in the Netherlands

One further source of information is the website www.grantfinder.nl. Here you will find a list of known scholarships for international students at Dutch universities.