Home Student Life Can I Study in Amsterdam For Free?

Can I Study in Amsterdam For Free?

by Micaela Zaslabsky

When you are a student it is very difficult to make ends meet, studying and paying bills is not the best combination. I am a student myself and I know how expensive it can be to pay for everything so, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to study for free? In this article, you will be able to find how you can study for free in Amsterdam.

Applying for scholarships is the best option to be able to finance your studies and even study for free in Amsterdam. There are several scholarships such as Sino-Dutch, MENA Scholarships Program and NN Future Matters Scholarships that help students with a significant amount of money.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Technically it is very hard to study completely for free in Amsterdam, but there are a few scholarships that you can apply to, that will help cover tuition fees and some other expenses, making living in this expensive city easier to cope with.

Can I Study in Amsterdam For Free?

The Netherlands, and more specifically Amsterdam, seems to be one of the preferred destinations for international students, and it is, of course, thanks to the broad offer of programmes taught in English.

In order to help the creation of a multicultural environment at least half of the BA and most MA programmes are mainly in English. This is also one of the reasons why I ended up living here.

The first thing that I did when I decided that I wanted to move to the Netherlands was checking the possible scholarships that I could apply to on Holland Scholarships. It is a website with all the information about the general scholarships that you as an international student can apply to if you want to study in the Netherlands. Here you have a table of the main scholarships that are being offered for the upcoming fall semesters:

ScholarshipCountries that Can ApplyContributionType of Scholarship
StuNed ScholarshipIndonesia20,000 eurosMaster programme
Sino-Dutch Scholarship Chinese16,113 eurosChinese 3rd-year bachelor, master or PhD students
Orange Tulip Scholarship ProgrammeNesos countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and VietnamIt depends on the country of originAny higher education programme
NN Future Matters ScholarshipBenelux, Bulgary, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey5,000 eurosStudying in the field of finance, risk management, economics, data science and entrepreneurship
MENA Scholarship Programme MSPAlgeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria and TunisiaExpenses and courseShort courses for professionals
Holland ScholarshipAny country from outside the European Economic Area5,000 eurosBachelor or Master programme

Is it Possible to Study Completely For Free?

Well, as you can see on the table most of the scholarships offer an amount that covers most of the expenses, or at least the tuition fees, but the ones that offer quite a big amount are destined to a very specific nationality.

In this case, if you happen to be from Indonesia or China, and you happen to qualify for the StuNed Scholarship for MA students or the Sino-Dutch Scholarship, you may be able to study for free, but for the rest of the nationalities, getting a scholarship will mostly represent a significant economic help.

Besides those general scholarships that are offered for you to study in multiple institutions, most universities also offer their own scholarships, both general and faculty ones, related to your field of study in order to help students with a lower income to have access to higher education or unweighted GPAs.

I always use the example of the UvA because I believe it to be the one with the highest offer of programmes and with a very practically displayed website, but you can check the scholarship and grants section of all the universities in Amsterdam. In this particular case, the University offers several types of UvA scholarships for international students:

The Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship, for non-European students who have graduated in the top 10% of their classes. This one includes full tuition and expenses coverage for one academic year, up to a total of 25,000 euros.

The Amsterdam Merit Scholarship is a more general scholarship, open for all kinds of student -yes, even if you are not on the 10% of your class, don’t worry.

Lastly, each faculty offers their own field-related scholarship specific to the type of BA or MA programme of your choice. Most of the scholarships that are offered in these sections tend to be either the Merit or Excellence Scholarship or one of the general ones illustrated in the table. In any case, if you already know what programme you would like to study, my recommendation would be to go and check, this is always the best option to keep track of dates, specific information and get the highest chances to be eligible.

ERASMUS + in Amsterdam

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Exchange programmes are a good way to live for free in a different country. As you may or may not know, the ERASMUS programme is a type of scholarship that most students from both public and private European universities can apply to. This programme consists of going to a different country to study for either one semester or the whole year.

If your nationality was not included in the table and you happen to hold a European nationality, you have certain limitations when it comes to applying for those scholarships, but certain advantages when it comes to other aspects or opportunities, for instance, the eligibility for the Erasmus exchange.

Can I get financial help for my ERASMUS? and can I do my ERASMUS exchange in Amsterdam?

The answer to both questions is YES! You can. If you are planning on doing this exchange, your home university has to provide you with the list of possible universities and types of economic help that you can get. Each university and each country has its own policies. The tuition fee will remain the same one as your home university, meaning that if you are already a beneficiary of free tuition, that will remain the same. The monetary help you will get from your Government thanks to the European funds for students mobility, will be mostly to cover expenses: rent, travel cost, and most living expenses. The amount varies per country, the more expensive the living cost of your destination country, the more economic help you will receive. The Netherlands is considered to be in the 2nd group, not so expensive, not so cheap.

Amsterdam is a city that offers quite a lot of options for exchange, many institutions participate in this European exchange.

All of the universities listed above follow the ECTS system and offer themselves as recipient institutions for students looking for an experience in the beautiful lower lands. This means that you can apply for an Erasmus Scholarship and you won’t have to pay for the Dutch tuition. You will receive help to pay the expenses.

  • Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • Amsterdam University College
  • Vrije Universiteit, AHK (Amsterdam School of Arts)
  • InHolland University of Applied Science
  • Gerrit Rietveld Academie

Can I study Dutch for Free?

I thought that since we are talking about studying for free in the Netherlands, we can also find out how to study Dutch for free. The fact is that one of my aims before coming here was to get to know and learn a little more about this peculiar language.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands by Michael D Beckwith

There are several ways of making of studying Dutch a cheaper, or even a free activity:

1. Studying Dutch for free!
Amsterdam is one of the best cities of the Netherlands to living in and not only for the great cultural melting pot that is constantly going on. Once you are registered in the Netherlands you are allowed to enroll on Dutch courses for free.
First of all, you have to make sure that you are registered and that your home address is within the limits of the city of Amsterdam. Then you can check the City Hall’s website where they offer free Dutch courses as part of the civic integration courses and also for anyone who would like to learn a bit more and make a step further to integrate.

2. Dutch university courses
If you are planning on enrolling at the UvA or at the VU, you will be able to get a better price if you are interested in enrolling on one of the courses their Language Academy.
In the case of the UvA, we are talking about the INTT. For example, in this case, students are allowed to pay a reduced fee for any of their Dutch courses, plus some of these are offered as subjects for UvA students who want to use their elective credits to study Dutch.

3. Summer courses
If you are an exchange student you may get lucky. You can always find out if your university offers free Dutch courses during the summer or even online ones. I was lucky enough to take one during my Erasmus year at Utrecht University and it was a great start.

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