- University of Amsterdam: This is the third oldest university in the Netherlands, and the largest university of the country, based on enrollment. The university has a strong internationalisation programme and offers many courses in English. It has a population of over 32,000 students and is ranked the 19th best university in Europe.
- Erasmus University Rotterdam: Established in 1913, it is home to more than 20,000 students. The university has seven faculties and focuses on four areas of expertise: health (medicine and health sciences); wealth (economics and management); governance (law and social sciences) and culture (history, culture and communication, social sciences and philosophy).
- Leiden University: This university, the oldest in the Netherlands, was founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange. It has six faculties, over 50 departments and enjoys an outstanding international reputation. It has over 19,000 students.
- ETH Zurich: This university, founded in 1855, is an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university, and is considered by many to be the best university in continental Europe. It is currently ranked the second best university in Europe for engineering, science and technology.
- University of Geneva: This public research university with over 14,000 students is the second largest university in Switzerland. It has programmes in various fields but is particularly acknowledged for its academic and research programmes in international relations (with Geneva being hostess to a dense agglomeration of international organisations), law, astrophysics, astronomy, and genetics (with a record of prominent contributions to the fields of planetary science, genetics, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and theology).
- University of Zurich: The largest university in Switzerland, it was founded in 1833 and has over 25,000 students. Currently, the university has faculties of arts, economics, law, medicine, science, theology and veterinary medicine.
How to apply
A student who wishes to pursue undergraduate studies in Germany should contact the university’s Registrar Office (Studierendensekrekatriat) to receive the application form. Some universities take care of the entire registration process themselves. However, others may rely on external agencies (for example, Uni-Assist) to manage applications. The university will inform the student whether to continue the application process with those external agencies, and what documentation she will need to submit to apply for the study programme of her choice.
While every German university is autonomous and has its own criteria for admitting students, in general, Indian students need to fulfil one of the following conditions after 12th grade to be eligible to apply for an undergraduate degree:
- Complete the first year of a bachelor programme from a recognised Indian university in India in the relevant subject field.
- Clear the IIT Joint Entrance Examination in technology and/or natural sciences subjects, depending on the course required.
- Pass the Feststellungsprüfung, the qualification assessment examination in Germany. This may be an additional requirement, depending on the university; some universities are satisfied with just the 12th grade results, especially if the student has completed an internationally known programme like the IB or the IGSE.
- In case the university feels that the student’s chosen subjects in 12th grade were not rigorous enough to handle an undergraduate course load in Germany, the student may be required to take the Studienkolleg as a pre-requisite. This is a foundation level, full-time course focusing on subjects relevant to the degree programme and German language proficiency. It takes two semesters to complete and is offered only in Germany.
A student planning to enroll in full time undergraduate studies at a public university in the Netherlands for the first time must submit her applicationthrough the Dutch joint application system called Studielink. First, she must choose a course that meets her personal expectations and educational profile. Next, she must register at Studielink to provide her personal data and information about her educational background. Through her account, she will be able to check the status of her application, change the contact information or even terminate her enrollment in a course.
To study in Switzerland, your child will have to submit her application to theuniversity or college of her interest. The university will examine the submitted documentation, check whether she is eligible for the study programmeshe applied for, and issue a proof of registration in the event she is finally admitted. In general, universities and colleges in Switzerland ask international students to submit the following documentation in order to evaluate their academic eligibility:
- The filled-in application form for the selected study programme or course.Most schools in Switzerland have online application systems.
- A recent passport-sized photo.
- A notarised copy of the student’s certificates. If she is applying for first-cycle studies (undergraduate), she will have to submit a notarised copy of her school-leaving certificates.
How do I finance my child’s education?
Undergraduate education in most European universities is highly subsidised by their respective governments. The tuition fees for international students in Europe are lower than in many other countries, at approximately €€9000 per annum on average.
Not much information is available on scholarships for international students, but it does not hurt to check with the respective embassies and also the universities applied to. In Germany, check with the German Academic Exchange Service that maintains a database of current opportunities. There are a limited number of scholarship opportunities for foreign students in Netherlands, many of which are administered by Nuffic, a Dutch non-profit organisation that aims to foster international cooperation in higher education.
In addition, students are allowed to work in the Netherlands (10 hours a week) andin Switzerland (15 hours a week) to help subsidise part of their costs. Germany allows them to work for 120 days in a year.
Living in Europe
Germany: Most German universities do provide some student accommodation, but the number of beds provided is very small compared to their student population. Because costs are low, waiting lists can be very long and at some universities, students have little chance of securing a place in their first year. Many students therefore opt to live in private shared accommodation instead. Accommodation costs range from about €140-400 per month, depending on location.
Netherlands: Students do not commonly live on campus in the Netherlands and finding a room can be time-consuming and expensive, so start early and ask your child’s university for details of any recommended agencies. The rent in shared houses typically costs between €200 and €400 a month, divided among approximately 4-5 students.
Switzerland: Some subsidised on-campus student accommodation is available in Switzerland, but it is also common for students to rent private rooms or flats. To start with, contact the housing office at your institution to find out what assistance and/or recommendations they can offer. Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world, so budget on paying at least €500-600 per month for a room in a shared apartment.
Approximate tuition fees for international students
- Germany: €0 to 500 per semester + €1000 enrolment fee per year
- Netherlands: €6,000 -12,000 per year
- Switzerland: €900-9500 per year
All three countries enjoy great public transport systems, including railway lines, trams, buses and the metro. This making getting around easy and inexpensive. For travel between countries, rail passes such as the Eurail Pass or bus passes on the Euroline bus system are a great way to save a lot of money.
Germany: All international students in Germany must be covered by health insurance, without which they cannot be enrolled in a German university. The German student insurance has standard price slabs and is highly subsidised by the state to ease the students’ financial burden. Health insurance costs are approximately €75 per month. It should be noted that health insurance in Germany is valid only when it is provided by a state or state regulated health insurance provider located in Germany — according to the EU and German law, the health insurances companies from the students’ home countries claiming to insure the student in Germany are not valid and do not suffice to cover her stay for university education in Germany.
Netherlands: International students in the Netherlands must take out a private healthcare insurance policy in order to study in the country. Today, two Dutch companies, AON and HollandZorg, offer comprehensive health insurance packages for international students, which cover medical expenses, extraordinary costs, legal aid, accidents, liability and baggage cover and household goods at a premium of approximately €39 per month.
Switzerland: All international students living in Switzerland for more than three months must have basic health insurancecoverage. Switzerland has a compulsory health insurance system that guarantees access to a range of quality medical care services and appropriate medical treatment. The premium for international students is approximately €€80-160 per month.
We hope we have given you and your child most of the information you will need to decide on an undergraduate education in Europe. The continent has many respected universities that provide world-class education at a highly subsidised rate. We think your child will greatly benefit from aEuropean education, and you too will find comfort in the fact that you didn’t have to break the bank to provide your child with a world-class education!
List of scholarships available for Indian students to study in Europe. Each individual college may also offer scholarships to international students – do check the websites of the colleges for more details.