Today, more and more students are choosing to study abroad to broaden their horizons. Spending time in another country, especially as a student, allows you to experience a new environment, overcome unique challenges, and most importantly, access to top-quality education. Europe, with its diversity of languages and culture, has become a popular destination for Indian aspirants.
Dutch universities are known for their multicultural environment and innovative teaching methods, so it’s no surprise that the Netherlands has come into focus recently, with Indians becoming their eleventh biggest community of international students. It helps that English is spoken by the vast majority of the population there, making the transition for foreigners a little less harsh.
In the southern part of the country, based in a relatively small but charming city, we have the Tilburg University — a public research university specializing in the social and behavioral sciences, economics, law, business sciences, theology and humanities. The Tilburg School of Economics and Management, founded in 1927, is the oldest and largest department of the university, while the other four were founded between the 60s and 80s.
The university campus is compact but extremely green, nestled between forested land and the town of Tilburg. With a focus on sustainability and social responsibility — the college motto is ‘Understanding Society’ — there are systems in place to ensure daylight savings, insulation, and water conservation. The facilities are excellent: a beautiful library, multiple cafes, and swathes of open space.
The institution has gained a reputation in both research and education. Economics, Business, and Law are popular courses at both the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels. In 2020, RePEc ranked the Economics faculty as the 23rd most productive research department in the world, and the 6th in Europe. The institution is ranked in the Top 36 in Accounting and Finance in the QS Rankings by subject, and 17th in Business Administration. For law, it’s by far the best university in the Netherlands.
Tilburg University has a student population of over 19,000 students, about 32% of which come from outside the Netherlands. This percentage of Indian students has steadily increased over the past years. The university offers both Dutch-and English-taught programmes: in fact, 48 of the total 71 programmes were in English. They also award about 120 PhDs per year.
Holland has friendly immigration laws and easy visa processing, so the process of moving there shouldn’t be too difficult. The tuition fee ranges from 12,000-15,000 euros per academic year, but there are scholarship options for outstanding students. The Orange Tulip Scholarship offers a tuition waiver for Indian students admitted to a one-year Master’s programme. Moreover, students undertaking Research Master’s automatically get a partial waiver.
Life in Tilburg is relatively inexpensive when compared to Dutch university cities, such as Amsterdam and Utrecht. The approximate cost of living is between € 715 and € 1,215 per month. The university doesn’t offer on-campus housing, so it’s important to search for accommodation once you have an offer. Luckily, foreign students are allowed to work part-time for up to 16 hours a week during term time, and full time during the summer months of June, July, and August.
The college has more than 40 student associations and societies, which are easy ways to meet new people. There are groups for arts and culture, student politics, philosophy as well as study-related associations. Some clubs cater specifically to international students. For those interested in athletics, the state-of-the-art Sports Centre will be a delight. It has over 50 activities to choose from — aerobics, martial arts, handball, swimming, climbing, to name a few.
With the innovative and fast-growing economic environment in the southern part of the Netherlands, opportunities for internships at international companies located in and around Tilburg are abundant. There’s an active career portal that not only organises workshops and training sessions but also offers individual counselling for students looking for career advice.
Holland offers a one-year work permit for foreign students that allows them to find a job in the Netherlands or to start your own business. This residence permit gives you free access to the Dutch labour market. Although the country is fairly Anglophone, knowing the Dutch language will offer you an important edge so it’s highly recommended to learn.
Some of the world’s biggest multinationals, including Philips, Heineken, KLM, Shell, ING and Unilever, are Dutch. Tilburg Uni hosts one of the largest industry networking events in the Netherlands called the Economic Business weeks Tilburg — this on-campus recruitment drive is attended by top global companies. Many key sectors offer great employment opportunities in Holland: life sciences and health, high-tech systems and materials, agriculture and food, creative, horticulture, chemicals, energy, water, and logistics.
Tilburg is a true student city. It’s small enough that you can walk or cycle everywhere but also has a vibrant culture that will appeal to young people. You can expect plenty of pubs and restaurants, theatres and concert halls, important museums, and of course, the well-known fairs and festivals. Also, the city is only a short train ride away from Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam, and has easy access to other European capitals.
The educational system of the Netherlands, with its focus on group work and practical learning, will be a unique experience for Indian students. Most importantly, exploring a new country that is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere and incredible natural sights will lead to better opportunities for cultural connection and growth.