/ Money

Is studying abroad cheaper than studying in the UK?

Map of Europe

With tuition fees in the Netherlands just 17% of the cost of studying in the UK, trading Fish & Chips for Edam sounds appealing. But as I found out, tuition fees aren’t the only costs students face…

My sharp reality meant that I was faced with unexpected housing agency fees, insurance bills and rising tuition costs.

The tuition fee for Dutch universities in 2014/ 2015 is 1,906 Euro for all EU students, which to me and my fellow English student expats, looked significantly smaller than the £9,000 fee charged in the UK. While UK fees are high, we’re not expected to hand over the money upfront, as is the case in the Netherlands.

I was fortunate enough to have financial support from my parents, but for some, without any financial support, paying Dutch university fees upfront is a big challenge. After all, at the age of 18, students can minimal savings to fall back on. While Dutch university fees are significantly lower than the UK’s, getting the money together upfront is the bigger challenge.

Accommodation and insurance all adds up

If the fees haven’t left you down to your last few cents, accommodation might. UK universities normally provide accommodation to first year students costing an average of £560 per month.But in the Netherlands, students live independently.

For me, searching for accommodation was a pleasure. Trawling through the range of unique crooked townhouses on cobbled lanes and tree lined avenues without a purpose built accommodation block in sight.

But landlords can take advantage of the housing set-up charging high rent prices and adding agency fees to most rental contracts. This is normally a one-time payment around 450 euros (£362) – which certainly came as a surprise. And accommodation costs are around 433 euros (£349) per month.

More surprises were still to come a few months into my studies. After a bicycle incident I’d fully recommend both immense concentration while cycling and health insurance to avoid hefty medical bills. The NHS seems like a distant fond memory when I fork out around 92 Euros (£72.59) for insurance each month, because in the Netherlands, it’s a standard legal requirement.

What are your experiences of studying or working abroad? Did the grass seem greener that it really was or was the experience worth the expense?


Interesting article and I applaud the author’s get-up and go. The insights are very useful. I am confused as to the health side as I thought an EHIC would work given the number of months resident but just goes to show nothing beats actuality.

I have in my time looked at South Africa for post-graduate courses and what is available on the continent. This site here:
is a very useful tool and has links to thousands of universities though it is up to yo to locate the ones with courses in English.

I did a dummy run on Gronigen which itself has a very slick interface. The Netherlands is attractive as it has a very large English speaking population and easy proximity to the UK.

Uni in the USA says:
1 July 2014

For advice on universities overseas, go to: http://www.uniintheusa.com