Dutch Academic Culture
Do you wonder what Dutch academic culture is like? On this page we want to give you some tips and tricks to start your academic life as a student in Utrecht in the best way possible!

Dutch Academic Culture

The Netherlands has become a very popular destination for international students. This might not be a surprise when you look at the positions that Dutch universities hold in international university rankings! Another advantage of the Netherlands is that virtually every persons speaks English, so that will make your lives a whole lot easier! Usually the level of English in university education is also perceived to be very high by international students, so this is something to keep in mind!

Below we discuss some of the core characteristics of Dutch academic culture and we provide some useful links and interesting things for you to discover!


Academic culture in the Netherlands differs from other countries in various ways. First of all, there is generally little hierarchy and professors are very accessible for students. Also, expressing your opinion and actively participating in discussions is highly valued in the academic community.

Unlike in some other countries, competition hardly plays any role in Dutch education. Generally speaking, students and their parents find mediocrity acceptable and teachers usually set a minimum criterium, and all students who meet this, pass the course. In line with this is the fact that the same rules apply to everyone, which establish a fair and equal environment.

Responsibility and independence

In the Netherlands, students are generally assumed to take responsibility for their own study progress. Professors provide you with the study material, but how, when and where you study is left entirely up to you. Also, in case you experience any problems you are expected to reach out for help to for example academic advisors yourself.


In the Dutch grading system, grades range from 0 to 10, with 10 being very rare because this means perfection. Usually, grades from 6 to 10 mean a pass, and grades of 5 and lower means that you failed a test or course.

Study Associations

To enhance your student life in Utrecht, you might want to consider becoming a member of one of the many study associations. These associations give support and organise activities that are all study-related.

Picture: Stultiëns, A. / 360095 / Het Utrechts Archief

Got any tips or questions for us or your fellow students?