University application process for Dutch universities

There are some similarities between admissions processes for Dutch and British universities, but it is safer to say there are also some major differences.

Here we focus on three key things British students should know about applying to university in Holland.

1. When should I apply for university in Holland?

The admissions calendar in the Netherlands usually opens the first week of October for the following academic year. There are very few English-taught programmes that have admission in the spring semester.

The deadline for submitting an application varies depending on the type of university you apply for and any entry restrictions such as Numerus Fixus. The deadlines also vary for EU and non-EU applicants.

For 2022 admission, the deadline for most courses at research universities is 1st May 2022 if you have an EU passport. For British and other non-EU nationals the deadline is 1st April. However, even here there are exceptions so it is worth checking directly with the university you are interested in. Some universities have their own selection processes and you will need to adhere to their terms and conditions. In all cases, however, you need to have set up your account on Studielink by 1st May 2022.

For courses with Numerus Fixus, the deadline was 15th January 2022.

The entry process at University Colleges is completely different as prospective students may have to attend an interview in person. This has a significant impact on a student's likely chances of gaining a place. University Colleges are much smaller institutions with much clearer limits to student numbers. As all students are required to live on campus there is a physical limit to the number of students they can recruit. Typically students should apply to University Colleges in time for a January deadline. Applicants may then be invited to interview in February.

2. What grades do I need to get into a Dutch university?

See our page on entry requirements. Once you have satisfied yourself that you have the required qualifications you will be able to put forward an application.

3. When do I know if I have a place at a Dutch university?

Dutch universities usually make unconditional offers in the British sense of the word. These offers will be conditional on you passing the A' levels you say you are taking, or at least passing enough of your A' levels to meet the minimum entry requirement. You will need to produce originals of your certificates at some point during your first term but most Dutch universities understand that there is a time lag involved in your receiving this official documentation. Some exam boards can now send your A level results directly to international universities which might make your life easier. The International Baccalaureate Organisation can already do this for all students.

If you are applying to a course without Numerus Fixus it is possible that you could receive an offer within four weeks of applying. If your course is subject to Numerus Fixus then you may have to wait until the application deadline before the selection process can even start.Typically students applying for Numerus Fixus programmes will find out if they have a place on 15th April. Students who are just outside the ranking for Numerus Fixus degree programmes might still get a place if the top candidates don't confirm their place quicly enough (usually within 14 days).

If you do not meet the minimum A’ level standard required for your course you will not be able to enrol but in all other circumstances once you have your offer you are guaranteed a place at the university of your choice. For research universities this is now CCC and for Universities of Applied Sciences two A levels at any grade are required.

4. How can Dutch universities offer places with such low A-level grades?

It is important to note that this is in no way a reflection on quality. There are excellent universities in the Netherlands but they have a very different entry philosophy. Generally speaking if you have the necessary grades then you are entitled to prove you can cope with a university education. The first year at a Dutch university is seen as a probationary period - the propodeuse. You will take regular exams and if you fail them, you will be asked to leave. This contrasts quite markedly with the UK situation and it is something that you need to be fully aware of if you are planning to study in Holland.

It is also worth pointing out that the Dutch higher education system is different from the British system. In the Netherlands only 15-20% take the appropriate high school leaving certificate for going to a Research University (VWO). The majority of students take HAVO which gives them direct access to Universities of Applied Sciences but not directly to Research Universities. As around 37% of students in the UK take A' levels it is often difficult for the Dutch system to judge the precise quality of a British student's application. We would advise students to think very seriously about whether they would be able to cope at a Dutch Research University if they don't achieve a minimum of BBB in their A' levels.

5. How do I apply to a Dutch university?

Contact the university directly. They will then advise you of the best way to apply. Although there is a centralised admissions service in the Netherlands, Studielink, it is not always necessary to apply through it in the first instance. You will need to set up an account on Studielink at some point as this is a pre-condition to being registered as a student in the Netherlands. Your chosen university's admissions staff are usually the best people to advise you on when and how to do this.

See the Studielink page of this website for a lengthy explanation of the application process.

6. How much does it cost to apply to a Dutch university?

Until recently, it was free to apply to Dutch universities and it still is for universities of applied sciences. Because the research universities have seen huge growth in the number of applications for their English-taught Bachelors degrees, it has become necessary to introduce a fee. Some universities already do this but most others will introduce it from 2023. This is usually €100 but will cover multiple programmes at the same university. However, if students choose four degree programmes at four different universities, this could now cost up to €400 in total. It would therefore be wise to apply only to those programmes that are of most interest. This is not really a problem because, with the exception of Numerus Fixus programmes, students will already have a clear indication of their chances of success before they even apply.

Students with Dutch qualifications, or A levels or IB earned in the Netherlands, are exempt from these charges. Dutch nationals are also exempt no matter where they might have studied.


7. Do Dutch universities allow Deferred Entry?

No. This is not a feature of the Dutch application process. However, if there is no Numerus Fixus you can be certain that you would get an offer the following year as long as you meet the entry requirements.

For degrees with Numerus Fixus you have to go through the selection process along with all candidates for the same academic year. Just because you are good enough to receive an offer in one year does not mean you will receive an offer in the following year. The quality of applicants will certainly be different from one year to the next. If you are applying for a Numerus Fixus degree be prepared for your Gap Year plans to be interrupted by the need to take part in a selection process in February/March. For some degrees this will mean having to travel to the Netherlands at that time.

8. Can I apply to Dutch universities and British universities at the same time?

Yes, there is nothing to stop you from applying to universities in both countries at the same time. As the UCAS deadline is usually on or around 15th January, it is possible to apply to Dutch universities after you have been all the way through the UCAS process and received offers from British universities. However, we would suggest that you do your research in to Dutch universities at the same time as you investigate British universities.

Also, in all this talk about deadlines it is perhaps worth mentioning accommodation. Having a Dutch university as a backup plan is probably not a sensible plan because it is unlikely you will find a room at the last minute. It is probably worth treating the opening of the accommodation services (usually in April or May) as the effective deadline for applying to Dutch universities.

About Study In Holland 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. is owned by A Star Future Ltd and is not affiliated with the Dutch government.