Cost comparison between studying in UK and Netherlands

Weighing up the financial implications of studying for a degree is important whether looking to study in the UK or further afield.

We have worked out some examples of possible costs of university in both the UK and the Netherlands. We have compared tuition fees and living costs for a three year Bachelor degree for different family income scenarios for 2017 entry.

Since September 2015, no grants are available for any students within the Dutch system. This has not changed access to finance, but it does mean that all money received from the Dutch government must now be repaid.

Please remember that each student’s financial circumstances are different and these examples are for illustration purposes only. We cannot be held responsible for changes due to government policy or for institutional variances.

There are a few common points to make before we come on to the examples:

  • All UK students are entitled to a tuition fee loan from Student Finance England of up to £9,250 if you are studying a full-time course at a University in the UK.
  • Calculations are based on the cost for English students studying at British universities. The complexity of providing examples for Scottish,Welsh and Northern Irish students is beyond us.
  • All EU passport holders are entitled to take a tuition fee loan from the Dutch Government of up to the statutory fee. This is €2,006 for the academic year 2017/2018.
  • If a British student decides to take their full degree outside the UK there will be no financial support from Student Finance England.
  • Repayments to Student Finance England for any monies borrowed can be repaid over a 30 year period, starting in the April after graduation. As repayment amounts and interest charges are based on the salary a student receives after graduation, the total amount to be repaid is unclear. After 30 years, any outstanding amount will be written off.
  • In the Netherlands graduates must repay their loans over a 15 year period if they just have tuition fee loans, 35 years if they have maintenance loans as well. Repayments start two years after graduation.
  • Brexit is a thing that might or might not happen. It might or might not have implications for all of the information on this page. We can only speculate about what these implications might be (and indeed we do so happily on our blog) but this website will always aim to reflect the situation as it is rather than as it may become. Obviously, once there is any certainty at all, we will make sure this page is updated.

As student finance in both countries is complex and subject to individual circumstances, we have made a number of assumptions in our calculations:

  1. Students live away from home and outside of London or Amsterdam. A typical Northern university city in both countries has been used for living costs comparison.  The universities we have used are in the top 150 in the World. Degrees are 3 year, BA/BSc degrees and total debt has been calculated on this basis.
  2. Accommodation costs are based on a single occupancy room with shared facilities in self-catering flats or houses booked through the university. Ensuite and/or catered halls of residences are uncommon in the Netherlands.
  3. All costs are based on a ten-month year (September - June). Costs and income outside this period are not included. Costs are taken from information published on British and Dutch universities' websites. In our opinion, these seem a little low but not unreasonably so.
  4. We have calculated earnings for part-time work based on the minimum wage for a 20 year old in either country. We have assumed that students work 56 hours a month because of its pivotal importance in accessing Dutch student finance. It is possible to work less, it is possible to be paid more but it would not be advisable to work more than 56 hours a month (14 hours a week) while studying full time. (Dutch minimum wage is not calculated on an hourly basis so this is not exact.)
  5. All calculations on this page do not take interest into consideration but it is a safe assumption that British interest rates will be higher than Dutch ones.

A. Is your family income over £62,000?

In the UK if your household income is above £62,000, you will receive the lowest level of student support available, that is:

  • A tuition fee loan of up to £9,245 (all full-time UK students are entitled to this regardless of income)
  • A maintenance loan of up to £3,951 to cover living costs.

There will be no maintenance grant to help with living costs and it is unlikely that you will receive extra support from any UK university that mean-tests its financial support.

In the Netherlands, if a student is NOT working a minimum of 56 hours a month then they will not get access to additional loans available from the Dutch Government. (See example B for what you are likely to get if you will be working 56 hours a month)

  UK   Netherlands  
University expenses        
Tuition Fees £         9,250   £           1,750  
Accommodation £         4,200   £           3,500  
Living Costs £         5,000   £           4,100  
Total £       18,450   £           9,350  
         
Available assistance        
Tuition Fees Loan £         9,250   £           1,750  
Living Costs Loan £         3,951   £                  -  
Total £       13,201   £           1,750  
         
Annual Shortfall -£         5,249   -£          7,600  
         
Projected Debt upon graduation        
Student Finance (Loans) -£       39,603   -£          5,250  
Other -£       15,747   -£        22,800  
Total -£       55,350   -£        28,050  
         

In this example other debt is the amount that would need to be raised independently by the student to be able to complete their degree. This would be equivalent to the investment a family would have to make in their child's education or the amount that would need to be borrowed from a third party if they do not work alongside their studies or pay from savings.

In this example it is likely that the overall cost of a Dutch university degree will be around half the cost of a British degree although many British students will not repay the full amount of their student finance.

B. Is your family income over £62,000? And will you have a 56-hour a month job?

It is important to differentiate between the examples of having a 56 hour a month job or not as this is the basis of whether a British student will be classed as a Dutch resident and therefore able to access living costs assistance from the Dutch Government. Clearly, working less than 56 hours a month would also have an impact on the overall cost but it would have roughly the same effect in the UK and the Netherlands. In this case you are best off looking at Example A and offsetting part-time earnings against the "Other" debt required.

For advice on finding part-time work, visit this page for the experience of British students already in the Netherlands.

For further information, visit our loans and grants page. In the UK, there is no additional support available if you have a part-time job but you will have extra income.

  UK   Netherlands
University expenses      
Tuition fees £          9,250   £           1,750
Accommodation £          4,200   £           3,500
Living Costs £          5,000   £           4,100
Total £        18,450   £           9,350
       
Available Assistance/income      
Tuition Fees Loan £          9,250   £           1,750
Living Costs Loan £          3,951   £           8,154
Part-time income £          3,108   £           2,800
Total £        16,309   £           12,704
       
Annual Shortfall -£        2,141   -£         none
       
Projected Debt upon graduation      
Student Finance (Loans) -£       39,603   -£        29,712
Other -£       6,423   -£ 0
Total  -£       46,026   *£ 29,712
       

In this scenario you could actually access more than it costs to study if you took out the full loan. So, while it would be possible to borrow £8,154 per year for living costs, it might only be necessary to take around £3,354 per year to meet all your obligations. Therefore the total student finance debt upon graduation might only be *£15,312.

If you are able to work 56 hours a month it is estimated that a Dutch university degree would end up leaving you with a debt between a third and a half of its UK equivalent.

C. Is your family income below £25,000?

If household income in the UK is below £25,000, then you will be entitled to the following student support from the UK Government.

  • A tuition fee loan of up to £9,250.
  • A maintenance loan of £8,430 to cover living costs.
  • No maintenance grant. These have all gone.

You may also be entitled to additional means-tested support from your UK university. This may be in the form of fee waivers, halls of residence discount or cash bursaries. We have not included these in the calculations below because they are not automatically available to students. However, it is extremely likely that students from low income backgrounds will receive some support that will reduce overall indebtedness if not the funds in their pocket while they are studying.

In the Netherlands, if a student is NOT working a minimum of 56 hours a month then they will not get access to additional loans available from the Dutch Government. (See example B for what you are likely to get if you will be working 56 hours a month - UK income has no impact on this.)

  UK   Netherlands  
University expenses        
Tuition Fees £                 9,250   £            1,750  
Accommodation £                 4,200   £            3,500  
Living Costs £                 5,000   £            4,100  
Total £               18,450   £            9,350  
         
Available assistance        
Tuition Fees Loan £                 9,250   £            1,750  
Living Costs Loan £                 8,430   £                 -    
Total £               17,680   £            1,750  
         
Shortfall -£                 770   -£            7,600  
         
Projected Debt upon graduation        
Student Finance (Loans) -£               53,040   -£            5,250  
Other -£                 2,310   -£          22,800  
Total -£               55,350   -£          28,050  
         

In this example the benefit of studying in the Netherlands is still clear in terms of the overall cost of a degree but students going to the Netherlands will still need to find around £22,800 of their own resources to meet the overall cost whereas only about 10% of this amount will be ded if they stay in the UK. In this case it is highly likely that a UK degree will be more "affordable" even though it is still probably around twice the price of a Dutch degree.

D. Is your family income below £25,000? And will you have a 56-hour a month job?

In the past, means testing meant that you would be entitled to more grants if you were from a poorer background. As things currently stand, you can now borrow the same amount of money regardless of your financial background. No attention will be paid to students' family incomes; if you work 56 hours a month you can borrow money for your living costs, if you don't you can't and the UK situation in Scenario A or C will apply. If you do work, you should refer to the Dutch situation in Scenario B which is now true no matter what your family income is.

E. What about family income between £25,000 and £62,000?

Student finance is complex and subject to individual circumstances. If your household income lies between these amounts then you will probably end up with an overall cost somewhere between these two extremes (before interest is taken into consideration) if you study in the UK. Recent changes in The Netherlands mean that family income no longer has any bearing on cost or the amount you can borrow.

F. What about repayments?

One of the most commonly cited benefits of the British system is that repayments do not start until the graduate earns more than £21,000 and even then, they are capped at 9% of gross income over that amount. This has the clear advantage of not overburdening those on lower incomes.

The Dutch system also contains a failsafe mechanism for graduates on low incomes. Repayments of the tuition fee loan take place over a 15 year period, maintenance loans plus tuition fee loans over a 35 year period. Interest is currently charged at 0.81% and repayments are capped at 4% of gross income over the minimum wage. Full details can be found on the loans and grants page of the website.

We cannot rule out retrospective changes to repayment rates in either the UK or The Netherlands.

It is worth reiterating that none of the figures we have used include interest and we have tried to use 2017 prices wherever possible. We also believe that the living cost figures used throughout are accurate but probably at the lower end of the scale. True costs are possibly a little higher in both England and The Netherlands.

For more information about Dutch loans and grants, please click here.

About Study In Holland

Studyinholland.co.uk is an information service designed to assist British and Irish students in pursuing their university education in the Netherlands.

We have extensive knowledge of English-taught degrees in Holland and we also work with careers advisory services.

Studyinholland.co.uk is owned by A Star Future Ltd and is not affiliated with the Dutch government.

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