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  • England hails Dutch HE dream

    - British media discover the Netherlands as education hotspot across the Channel. Highly ranked HE- institutes, smaller classes, widespread English language programs and reasonable tuition fees make the difference. “Holland is a dream.”

    The Netherlands is a higher education paradise for English students, Russ Thorne wrote for the British newspaper "The Independent". Quoting Albert Camus' "The Fall", Thorne says that "Holland is a dream, Monsieur, a dream of gold and smoke, smokier by day, more gilded by night."

    Tuition fee difference widens

    Lower tuition fees, internationally renowned universities, smaller classes - after British Prime Minister David Cameron allowed universities to triple their tuition fees from £3.000 (€3.400) to £9.000 (€10.200), the Netherlands has become ever more attractive for English students. Especially universities offering programs in English like Maastricht University and a number of universities of applied sciences may benefit from this.

    "I've been pleasantly surprised - it's a great environment. It's a very easy society for an English person to live in. People are very welcoming, and willing to speak English," commented Craig Thompson, originally from Britain and now academic dean of Stenden University of Applied Sciences.

    Most of the 4 year programs would contain industry placements as well. "It's a real strength of the education system here. Students graduate with a real understanding of industry, and it's a shame that's disappearing from some UK universities."

    Dutch HE well placed in rankings

    With 11 universities placed in the top 200 of major rankings like the one by QS, Dutch higher education has gained an international reputation. This helps job prospects. "Graduates are easily accepted onto all major Masters programs and obtain traineeships and jobs without much difficulty. Some students are also successful in starting businesses," states the dean of Nyenrode New Business School, Timo Timmerman.

    Another plus are small classes and more approachable lecturers. "We have a lot more contact time than any English university. My friends say that going to uni in England is like being a number: you see your tutor for an hour and that's it for the week," argued Emma Booker, student at Nyenrode.

    More contact with tutors

    HAN University of Applied Sciences student, Taran Carter, also talks about his positive experiences with Dutch higher education. "When I was looking into universities I didn't know where I wanted to go or even what I wanted to do. I read an article about UK students going abroad and thought, 'Why not apply?' I didn't know a lot about Holland: I'd been to Amsterdam and that was it!

    The way the courses are taught is one of the things that appealed to me. In the UK you don't get much contact with tutors and you're not in the university that much. Here it's a lot more practical, there's a lot of group work and I'm in most days. I learn more and do more. You get the chance to study abroad for a year too, and that was another one of the reasons I came here.

    I've been telling all my friends that I didn't expect university to be like this. It feels more like school: smaller classes and lots of group work; and we really get to know our teachers. It's not like someone stands up in a hall and if you miss what they say, you've missed it.

    I really thought I'd hate the first week but I loved it, meeting people from all over the world and hearing their stories. I've settled in more quickly than I thought; I worried about communicating but I've found it easier than most. If a Dutch person is speaking English to a Chinese person they can find it hard to understand each other, but as a native English speaker I know what they're trying to say and I'm helping everyone out, which is good.

    I've made quite a few friends. In class we know each other really well because we spend so much time together, so we're relaxed outside of class as well and will go out for drinks and things like that. On the first day the uni took everyone on the course to a restaurant, so right away I found people I had things in common with and people I could talk to.

    I'd completely recommend it, simply because of the way living in another country changes you - you grow up so quickly. I'd say just go for it if you're interested. I've felt comfortable from the first day. Dutch people are much more friendly than English people, too: you can just have a conversation with someone at the bus stop."