The main characteristics of the Dutch educational style are:

Your own opinion

Having your own opinion and being critical is highly appreciated in Holland. Already at a young age kids are encouraged to develop their own ideas and take a critical view of things. You will be expected to make your own selection of information sources, develop your own line of thinking and incloude your own conclusions and / or recommendations

Brutal honesty

Students are expected to be visible in class, participate in discussions and show what they are capable of. Showing lectures and fellow-students how critical you are is considered to be more important than being loyal to other students as a group. This brutality may be enhanced by the fact that the Dutch speak English rather well but not everyone is always capable of expressing their thoughts politely in English.

Equatorial society

The equality of all human beings is a fundamental value in Dutch society. Differences in class, wealth, status, sex or race may never influence the classroom. Whatever students’ background may be, everybody will be treated the same way.


Research universities and universities of applied sciences in Holland expect their students to be independent. You will be expected to determine the study strategy that suits you best.

Rules are rules

Within the Dutch society rules and regulations are very important. Dutch society is based on rules. Exceptions to these rules, especially for individuals, are rare. To the Dutch rules are there to guarantee fair and equal treatment for everyone.

Active learning

Active learning is the best approach, is the general belief in Holland. This means that you will have to ask yourself questions and try to find the answers by studying. Memorizing and reproducing study material is considered nothing but a first step. This should lead to appreciating ‘own opinions’ and ‘being critical’ but also to interaction in class.

Interaction in class

Interaction in class is highly appreciated. You will be expected to think about the knowledge that is presented to you and develop and express your own opinion. Don’t be passive, but ask questions instead and be critical about what lecturers or fellow students say to be true.