Guide to Dutch University Services
As a student at a Dutch university, you’re entitled to more than just classes and exams. During your studies, you may require the help or take advantage of some of the services offered by your university, whether it’s to get properly settled or tackle new problems.
Get Help Before Arriving
Before you even arrive in the Netherlands, Dutch universities offer their aid to their upcoming and prospective students. This is mostly done through various forms of information, but it can still be a huge help when you’re in doubt about what to do or if you’re missing something.
Universities typically have an admissions office that is available if you have questions about your admission for your program. If there’s reason to believe you won’t make the expected deadlines, or you’re not sure how your documents translate into the Dutch system’s requirements, they’re always ready to help and only an email away.
If you contact these services, or any others like them offered by the universities, be aware that they can be particularly busy in certain periods. The clearest example is on the days leading up to admission deadlines.
To avoid a needlessly long queue, get your affairs in order and questions answered in due time.
If you’re still unsure of which university is the best for you, you can always attend a few Open Day events and get a taste of what the student life at the different institutions is like. It’s no problem if you can’t go all the way to the Netherlands, since many offer a virtual tour, making it available for anyone with an internet connection.
Some universities also offer campus tours. These are similar to Open Day events, except that they focus more on the university’s locations and facilities. Again, virtual versions exist for those who can’t come in person.
It’s not as normal for Dutch universities to offer accommodation to their students as universities in other countries such as the USA or the UK. Still, they work on securing their students a place of residence through their services.
Many Dutch universities have reserved accommodation with SSH Student Housing so their international students can easily find new residence during their first year in the Netherlands. They also offer tips on how to find housing that is specifically relevant to the city in which it’s located.
Visa & Residence Permit
Visa support is offered to those students from non-EU or EEA countries who need it. Here, they’ll help you with the process of gaining a visa and a residence permit, going through what is required for a citizen of your country. This can be a huge help if you’re in doubt about the process.
No matter your background, financial aid is usually always appreciated. As such, Dutch universities are ready to give a helping hand in the form of scholarships. There’s a variety of different ones to apply for depending on your program and university, so take a look at what’s available. Maybe your financial situation will be a bit less strained during your studies.
Arrival and the First Few Days
Dutch universities typically have many planned services and events to make your introduction to the Netherlands and your new city get along smoothly. These are entirely optional, though they’re usually recommended if you’re interested in getting to know more about the city or meeting other students.
From your first steps in the Netherlands, Dutch universities take care to help you if needed. Many offer an airport pick-up service, where you can sign up for a scheduled pick up at the nearest airport. It’s also typically possible to receive customised travel instructions if you’re in doubt about how to reach your university or new residence.
Most Dutch universities have an international student welcome day where non-Dutch students can be introduced to their new university. The purpose here is to specifically welcome those from abroad, informing them of the student life in the Netherlands. It’s also a perfect opportunity to get to know other international students who are just as new to the experience as you are.
Besides an introductory welcome day, most universities also arrange – or are at least to some extent involved with – a welcome week event. These are typically full of introductions to other new international students as well as the Dutch culture.
Sometimes, there’s also an extended introductory period in which you can be further introduced to the city. This usually includes city tours, visiting various bars, eating Dutch food, and getting a short language course. These events are perfect for forging early friendships as well as getting acquainted with your new city of residence.
Services on Offer During Your Studies
Whenever you’re in doubt, you can always approach your university’s student help desk. Here, they’ll answer whatever questions you have, help you retrieve your lost student ID, or redirect you to the department that is most relevant to solving your specific issue. They usually have a phone line as well as open hours where anyone can drop by and be consulted.
If your questions are about your specific program, or if you’re having general doubts about it, you can always go to your study advisor. They’ll be able to help with issues regarding exams and possibilities within the program, as well as more personal issues affecting your studying, such as illness or other circumstances that may lead to study delay.
For problems outside of your study program, you can go to one of your university’s student counsellors. They are more effective with general problems and can also help with issues concerning personal circumstances.
If you need help dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, or the general mental toll that university life takes on students, you can go to one of your university’s student psychologists. They can offer help by talking with you about the problems you’re facing, and they might think of solutions that can ease your study life.
In case you want to delve deeper into Dutch language but don’t have it as part of your core programme, universities in the Netherlands usually offer Dutch beginner courses. These are typically free, and the spots get filled up quickly, so sign up as soon as possible. If you want to learn more, check out our guide on how to start learning Dutch.