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  • Writer's pictureChuka Nwanazia

Guide To Studying In Amsterdam

University Students in Amsterdam

There's something wonderful about being a student in Amsterdam. From the history-rich walls of the University of Amsterdam to the nurturing and vocational halls of the University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam, this dynamic city is both a nurturer of young talents and a place for young dreamers to fulfil their dreams of learning in the best schools in Europe and the world.

Studying In Amsterdam

Are you going to study in Amsterdam? Then arm yourself with enough information to find your way in a student-friendly city like Amsterdam. Here on this blog, we take a look at some of the things every young person must look out for when coming to Amsterdam to study.

The basics of having a lovely time as a student is choosing the educational institution and study that suits you. As a student myself, I cannot stress this point enough! A lot of students are bored out of their minds because they didn't choose a study or institution of learning that suits them. Not everyone has to be a lawyer or doctor! Amsterdam has several colleges and universities that offer dozens of higher professional education and university programs. You can also easily make the transition from HBO to University in Amsterdam. And it's also wise and fun to join one of the many student associations. It's all about finding that association that makes you feel right at home.

Universities in Amsterdam:

Have you ever asked someone which Dutch city has the most university students? Some people would either say Leiden or Delft? They usually name these two cities because of the University of Leiden and the Delft University of Technology. Despite Leiden and Delft being popular student cities, lots of people are always surprised to learn that Amsterdam has the most university students in the Netherlands! Amsterdam is a very inspiring and multicultural city and you can see this in her universities -the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije University.

The Universities:

There are two universities in Amsterdam, namely the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Vrije (Free) University. Amsterdam is definitely the place to be for any student: the city offers you an inspiring and multicultural atmosphere where even students who study in neighbouring cities like Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam all come either as exchange students or just for leisure time activities. The diversity comes with an international character making it the perfect city for young people to study and to live in. More than 50,000 students study at these two universities (not counting the ones studying at the city's Universities of Applied sciences), making Amsterdam the student city with the most university students in the Netherlands!

Universities of Applied Sciences:

Vocational colleges in the Netherlands are called "Universities of Applied Sciences." Students are offered bachelor programs there and after their HBO (usually 4 years) studies, students can enrol in a master's program at the Vrije University or University of Amsterdam or any other universities in the Netherlands and Europe. They can also enter the job market and chase careers in different fields. Two of the most popular Universities of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam are: Inholland University of Applied Sciences (Hoogschool Inholland) and University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam (Hoogschool van Amsterdam).

Entry is open to anyone who has a highschool diploma and has written the final secondary school exam in their home country.

Student Associations:

Student associations in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has more than 40 student associations and these include social clubs, sports clubs or religious associations. Do you want to become a member of an association? Make sure to check with your student union to find out which ones best suit you.

Here are a few different types of student associations in Amsterdam:

Social Student Associations:

These are those kinds of student associations you'd definitely want to be a part of. They are not specifically focused on a particular sport, religion or social purpose, but mainly organise activities for students to have fun and socialise.

Religious Student Associations: Do you want to combine your religion with a student association? Then there are a number of religious student associations in Amsterdam. They're the perfect places to socialise with likeminded students and also discuss religion and spirituality.

Student Sports Associations: There are lots of student sports associations in Amsterdam and they all have a lot to offer students. These associations offer you a unique chance to combine sports and your studies while enjoying the life of a student. For students interested in sports and fraternity, Amsterdam offers a wide range of student sports association. Make sure to check with your school for these associations.

Other Student Associations: In addition to social, sports and religious clubs, there are also a lot of other student associations in Amsterdam. There are associations for African students, expats, German students, American students etc. The list is endless. I hope you all find the ones that make you feel at home and have a fun student experience in Amsterdam!

So now that we have discussed universities and student associations, let us talk student grants!

Every Dutch student is entitled to a student grant in the Netherlands. Non-Dutch students can also apply for student grants on the DUO website. If for some reason, you fail to meet the nationality criteria for student finance, contact DUO and see if you may still qualify for a tuition fee loan. Student grants (for higher education) in the Netherlands comprises four components: a regular loan, a student travel product, a supplementary grant and a tuition fee loan.

Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) DUO is the body that is in charge of student grants in the Netherlands. They are also responsible for providing you with information concerning, among other things, your student travel product, applying for a loan and following a master's program in the Netherlands. Changes in your study and living situation may affect your student finance and/or loan. Always stay in contact with DUO and make sure you are well informed.


You may be eligible for a student grant if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are a citizen of an EU or EEA country;

  • You are a full-time student on a higher education course in the Netherlands which is eligible for a student grant;

  • You have at least 56 hours of employment per month;

  • You have an employment contract for that job.

  • You are under the age of 30 when you apply for a student grant (you may continue to receive the grant up until you turn 34, but only if the period during which you receive the grant is uninterrupted);

  • You hold a Dutch bank account in your own name.

Depending on the income of your parents, you can also receive a supplementary grant through DUO. If you fail to graduate within 10 years, then you must pay back the cost of your travel product and additional grants plus your loan! For more questions regarding this, please call DUO as they are always willing to answer questions and provide clarity!

Their phone number is +31 50 599 77 55.

Make sure you have your Citizen Service Number ('burgerservicenummer' or 'BSN') when you call them as they always ask for it.

Do you have a study delay?

All you have to do is contact DUO, let them know that your date of graduation has changed and they will update it for you. You can also log in on Mijn (My) DUO and change the date yourself! This also has to be done on time so that your student grant will not be stopped sooner than expected.

Important Facts About DUO

Everyone is entitled to student finance in the form of: a loan, a student travel product and tuition fee credit.

Your eligibility depends on your nationality or residency status, your age and your course of study.

College credit means taking out a loan if you can not pay your tuition fees. After your study, you must repay the loan, with interest. The student travel product and grant are converted into a gift if you graduate within 10 years. If not, you have to repay those as well.

You are entitled to a student grant for a total of 7 years: during the course duration of your study program and 3 years after that.

Finding Students Accommodations

It's not easy finding student apartments in Amsterdam. In most cases, it's not just a race against time, it's as difficult as trying to navigate the oceans with an angry Poseidon on your tail! With the issue of AirBnB becoming more popular in Amsterdam, rent has skyrocketed in the city and a lot of landlords prefer to put their rooms for rent on AirBnB than rent them out to students. Realistically speaking, I'd advise you to abandon the dream of finding a room in the city centre because that is almost impossible!

Student hostel Amsterdam

Here are a few tips on how to find student accommodation in Amsterdam:

Student Housing Corporations:

I currently live in a student campus in Haarlem (Delftstraat 52) and it is rented out by a student housing corporation in Haarlem. A lot of students studying in Amsterdam, Leiden, Hoofddorp also live there. It's not easy finding student housing in Amsterdam so most students end up living in neighbouring cities like Haarlem, Hoofddorp, The Hague and even Leiden. The good thing is, these cities are all 15 or 20 minutes away (by train) from Amsterdam. On Studentenwoningweb you can find studio apartments of various sizes from housing corporations offered at a fair price. The wonderful thing is that applying for a rent allowance is also a possibility!

So if you have future plans to study in Amsterdam, it is wise to register early. This is already a possibility from the age of 16. The only disadvantage of renting studio apartments from student housing corporations is that while it might be cheap, it can also take a while before you get your (dream) studio apartment. If you have not registered yet and are currently about to write your final exams, I'd suggest you register now! The chance of being invited to inspect the accommodations and the possibility of getting the apartments are based on how long the student has been registered on the website and how close their school is to the accommodation.

Extra tip: sign up directly with Woningnet, so that you can build up points in order to get a cheap rental home in the city.

Kamer Sites:

The largest selection of rooms can be found on sites such as and Kamernet has hundreds of rooms on offer and students can respond to all of them. You can respond to as many apartments as you want if you're willing to pay a certain amount of money. For example, you pay 30 euros per month to Kamernet to be able to respond indefinitely. After the payment, you're able to chat directly with landlords and even plan visits to inspect apartments.

Estate agents: There are quite a few estate agents who offer spacious and centrally-located student apartments for rent in Amsterdam. An advantage is that due to the popularity of (less spacious) studio apartments amongst students in Amsterdam, fewer people respond to these more spacious and sometimes luxurious ones. They also find it a tad expensive and tend to leave it for the more financially stable or privileged students. So if you are a student who has the money, you wouldn't be in search of an apartment for long.

There are quite a few disadvantages though. Many estate agents charge high "rent commission" and also impose what I sometimes refer to as, "ridiculous income requirements." For example, they could ask for the applying student to have an income that is three times the rent price! Seriously, how is a student supposed to manage that? However, some also accept the parents as guarantors. So if you have rich parents, make sure to use them as guarantors to land that dream student apartment.

Via Friends, Family or Facebook:

In most cases, when a student knows the right people, they can easily informed them that they are looking for a room to rent. While this may not be a very efficient way of finding an apartment, it sometimes works because you never know who knows someone that's willing to rent out their rooms or apartments. So let your friends, family and acquaintances know that you are looking for a room and hope they help you find something. Furthermore, it is probably smart to sign up and join different Facebook pages or groups where rooms are on offer.

Working and Studying

Student waitress in Amsterdam

Most students still find time in their busy lives to earn some extra money. You've probably had several part-time jobs in the past, but working while studying is totally different! It can be sometimes difficult trying to combine your studies with a part-time job. Luckily, Amsterdam is home to lots of jobs where students are given enough free time to attend classes and study for exams as well as have social lives. From grocery stores, jobs in tourism to waiting tables and freelance opportunities, the possibility is endless in a city like Amsterdam.

You can start your search for that dream part-time job here.

Health Insurance

While rooms and student grants may be very important, nothing is more important than the health and well-being of a student. In this day and age when students suffer both mental and physical breakdowns, it is of paramount importance that they are able to get the best medical care while studying. To this end, it is important that every student has a good health insurance. The type of health insurance you need depends on your personal situation. Some students need more attention from the dentist while others need it from the dermatologist - so it all depends on what a student wants.

There are 3 different types of cover available to students:

  • Dutch public healthcare insurance.

  • EU Health Insurance Card or private insurance.

  • Dutch public health insurance.

Dutch Health Insurance:

If you decide to take out Dutch public healthcare insurance (zorgverzekering), you are free to do this with any Dutch insurance company. It’s very important to note that this type of insurance only covers your medical expenses.If you take out Dutch public health insurance, you may be eligible for compensation for your insurance premium. This compensation is called healthcare benefit or healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag).

EU Health Insurance Card (EHIC):

You may be eligible to receive a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which covers your medical costs during your stay in the Netherlands if:

  • You are an EU/EEA or Swiss national studying in the Netherlands.

  • You are not working or doing an internship in the Netherlands.

  • You are insured through a national health system in your home country.

It is possible to apply for the EHIC in your home country. For more information on the EHIC, please check out the website of the European Commission.

You are not obliged to take out any additional insurance in the Netherlands, as long as you are not working or doing a paid internship in the Netherlands.

Private Health Insurance:

What if you don’t have an EHIC and there is no obligation to take out Dutch public healthcare insurance as you are not in the Netherlands to work or do a paid internship next to your studies?

Then you definitely need to check if your existing insurance covers your stay in the Netherlands.

If not, you need to take out a new or special insurance policy for the duration of your studies.

Please contact the International Office of your higher education institution for advice!

Some Tips:

  • Make sure you have a good student health insurance because your health is the most important thing.

  • Don't forget to set aside some money as your "deposit" when you finally get your student apartment.

  • Buy a good and reliable bicycle. Also make sure it's not a new bicycle as bicycles gets stolen everyday in Amsterdam. This will help you get around much faster in the city. Having a bicycle also helps you discover Amsterdam's hidden alleys and streets. Have fun!

  • Don't forget to also order your ISIC Student Card via this link ... With your ISIC Card, you can easily prove that you're a student and also get a lot of discounts at 150,000 different locations across more than 133 countries.

  • Check out this link for some of Amsterdam's best bars as you can't study in Amsterdam without tasting some the city's best cocktails!

Need some help with comparing health insurance providers?

Check out these websites:

Zorgkiezer - (for Dutch speaking students).

Studenten Zorgverzekering - (for English speaking students).

We wish you good luck as you come to Amsterdam to study. Don't forget to leave your comments on our website or send us emails to let us know how you find Amsterdam as a student.

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