Application Process

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

1.    When do you apply?

The admissions calendar usually opens in September or October for the following year ie. September 2011 for entry in September 2012.

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.  Typically courses which are subject to Numerus Fixus will have an earlier application deadline as entry to these courses is determined by lottery. 

The entry process at University Colleges is completely different as prospective students 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 you need?

Dutch universities usually do not make offers based on your achieving certain grades at A levels. There are some exceptions. For example, if you wish to study engineering you will probably need to have A’ level C or above in maths and physics. However, for most courses it is necessary simply to have A’ levels.  All courses require you to have studied six different subjects. Sometimes this can be made up of 3 A’ levels and 3 GCSEs. In other cases it may be 2 A’ levels and 4 GCSEs.  The International Baccalaureate is well understood by Dutch universities, other qualifications such as national diplomas less so. Therefore, if you are not taking A’ levels in the UK it is worth checking whether your qualifications will be recognised. In some cases BTEC qualifications might actually be better preparation for courses at Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences.

3.    When do you know if you have a place?

Dutch universities usually make conditional offers. 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 for your course. You will need to produce originals of your certificates at some point during your first term but Dutch universities understand that there is a time lag involved in your receiving this official documentation.

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 will have to wait until the application deadline before the lottery process can even start.

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.

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. 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.

5.    How do you 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. While most universities will require you to fill out an application through Studielink they are 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.    Can you 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.

About A Star Future

A Star Future provides information and guidance to British students looking to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Through our presentations in schools and our websites we aim to ensure that British-educated students are well informed about their choices.