Go Dutch for a first-class experience in studying
Apart from football legends, quality dairy products and the most welcome payment method of 'going Dutch', the Netherlands also offers the world a culture and environment that overseas students find enjoyable and inspiring. But this is always neglected and 'undervalued' by Hongkongers, according to Robert Schuddeboom, consul-general of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Hong Kong.
'When it comes to studying abroad, Hong Kong students have in mind the United States, the UK, Canada, and Australia. And for European countries, they have in mind Germany and France. Most of the time they miss out on the Netherlands, a country which offers a very broad [range] of high-quality courses with a number of the highest ranking universities in the world,' he says.
According to Schuddeboom, the business administration programme at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, international law studies at both Maastricht University and the University of Amsterdam, and language programmes at the University of Leiden are some of the most popular, well-known courses.
'Besides, we have a number of good [technical] universities and vocational schools, such as Eindhoven [University of Technology], the number one design school in the world. We have also one of the world's top three hotel schools,' Schuddeboom says.
Meanwhile, the welcoming attitude and high proficiency in English of the general public, and the relatively low tuition and living costs are, says Schuddeboom, key elements that help make Holland a comfortable education destination.
'In Europe, Holland has the most English study programmes outside the UK. And generally speaking, for Euro600 to Euro700 per month, students can have a room to stay, enough food to eat, and have beer a few times a week if you like,' says Schuddeboom, adding that the cost of most degree programmes for non-EU students range from a few thousand up to Euro10,000 a year.
He stresses that it is important for Hong Kong students to realise that it is not only what they are doing, but also what they should be doing - opening their minds and eyes - that enriches the experience of studying abroad.
'Holland has a great culture, which you should definitely explore, but also don't forget you are in the middle of Europe, so do try to visit cities like Berlin, Paris and London, for example,' he says.
Joining at least one of the sports clubs or student associations on campus during your stay is a good way to get along with Dutch students, Schuddeboom suggests. Large-scale DJ concerts and outdoor festivals are also becoming mainstream in Dutch student culture.
'You study abroad for academic value, and perhaps even more importantly, for the international experience. I recommend that students share [accommodation] at least, and go for towns with lots of international students, such as Leiden, Utrecht, Groningen, Maastricht and Amsterdam. Otherwise, you will lose out,' Schuddeboom says.
There are two major types of higher education institution in the Netherlands: research universities and universities of applied sciences. The former focus on independent research-oriented work in an academic or professional setting, while the latter specialise in professional programmes to prepare students for specific careers.
It takes three years (180 credits) and four years (240 credits) to obtain a bachelor degree from research universities and universities of applied sciences, respectively.