When I was living in Texas, people wanted to study abroad in very particular places: Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome or Berlin. My first encounter with the Netherlands was with my now-boyfriend Riccardo. His university, Maastricht University, had an exchange with mine, and he went for a semester to study. I must admit that I knew very little of the Netherlands. I probably only knew about Amsterdam, perhaps a bit about tulips and windmills, but that was it. I hate to admit that I didn’t even know the Dutch language existed. Ironically enough, now I live in the Netherlands, speak Dutch and know there is much more to this country than tulips and windmills (although I love buying fresh tulips and my favorite restaurant is besides a windmill).
As I researched for a university for my masters, I learned a lot about Dutch universities. The university I chose, Maastricht University, is a very young university. It was founded in 1976 to help with the shortage of schools of medicine. Limburg was in need of economic stimulus after the mines in the region had closed down, and a top quality university was a great opportunity. Maastricht University distinguishes itself from other universities because it uses Problem Based Learning for its study programs. Through PBL, students learn to solve real-world problems, and become much more engaged in their studies. The university now has over 16,000 students studying a variety of bachelors, masters and PhDs in Business, Arts, Law, Medicine and Psychology. Most, if not all, of the programs are taught in English, which attracts a lot of foreign students.
Utrecht University is probably the most recognized Dutch university in the Netherlands. It is the top Dutch university and holds number 16 in Europe and 57 worldwide according to the “Academic Ranking of World Universities” by the University of Shanghai. Unlike Maastricht University, Utrecht is a very old university founded in 1636 and has almost 30,000 student registered. Twelve Nobel Prize winners have had some sort of connection with Utrecht, in short or long-term positions as professors or researchers.
Groningen University is another old university founded in 1614. This university had the first female student in the Netherlands, first female lecturer in the Netherlands, first Dutch astronaut and the first president of the European Central Bank. That is a lot of firsts! The university is very involved with the local primary and secondary schools hosting annual events where professors and students from the university hold lectures, projects and classes for students. This is another large institution with about 48,000 students.
If you want to know more about Dutch universities, Nuffic is the Dutch organizations in charge of promoting and informing about universities and scholarships in the Netherlands. Perhaps you can pursue a university degree AND practice your Dutch all in the same trip!
de universiteit- university
de ranglijst- the ranking
de opleiding- education (but more on a training aspect)
het onderwijs- education
de lezing- lecture
het schoolgeld- the tuition