The Huygens Scholarship Programme was available for international students who were offered to study in the Netherlands. This program was managed by Nuffic and it ended in 2012. This website summarizes this program and explained the rules. International students can’t apply anymore.

The programme offered outstanding foreign students an opportunity to study for a period of between three and ten months at a Dutch university or hogeschool (university of professional education) or at one of the eligible research institutes in the Netherlands. Huygens scholarships are meant for students who are nearing completion of their studies or have recently graduated.

Summary of Huygens Student Reports

By far the reaction of students regarding their study time in the Netherlands is for the most part positive. There were no clear trends in the opinions of students attending the same academic institution or coming from the same home country. The following are thoughts that were repeated throughout many of the reports:

Contact with Dutch students was limited and/or difficult to make. This was mainly due to the isolation of students in specific “international” student activities, classes, housing situations and the language barrier. Those who lived with Dutch families or students, or spoke the language, did not mention this same problem. Students are required to have completed a regular high school programme or an equivalent degree, such as the GED (General Education Development) credential.

Students in both situations did seem to find their social contacts valuable, regardless of their nationalities. This is by far the most widely talked about aspect of Huygens students’ visits to the Netherlands.

For the most part, students found the support they received from faculty and staff to be a benefit. They were well equipped to welcome international students and thus particular challenges encountered could be addressed i.e. adapting to a different culture. Some felt, however, that they were of little help when it came to helping them adapt to a different academic structure.

Students found their host institutions were able to provide them with resources that would not have been available to them at home. This gave them an added advantage in undertaking research/studies and made their stay more worthwhile. Additionally, the education they received was on par with their expectations.

Housing situations were acceptable to most students. Due to the high population in the Netherlands, many students had to lower their standards and become accustomed to living with a large number of flatmates. In the end, this proved to be an asset as living with a number of people facilitated making social contacts.

Some students cited the following issues. Although these situations were for the most part unique in the reports submitted, they are worth mentioning as students who did not submit reports may have had similar encounters.

The difficulty was noted regarding the financial allotment for airfare. A student mentioned that although they purchased the most inexpensive fare possible it still was near twice the cost the Nuffic would cover. The student suggests taking into account when people are coming from remote areas that airfare will more than likely exceed the limit set.

On a more positive note, one student feels that a job offer they received was a direct result of having spent time studying in the Netherlands.

Some students noted difficulties adjusting to a different manner of studying included different exam structures and procedures and more/less advanced courses than they were used to. These challenges were overcome with time.

Students who lived outside of the city they studied in often felt cut off from a social life.

Students who did not understand Dutch were sometimes at a disadvantage when computer software was only available in this language.

A Chinese student mentioned that they felt people from his country are looked down upon by the Dutch. The student felt that this limited his ability to make social contacts.

Offered Disciplines by Huygens Scholarship Programme

The marketing of Dutch higher education on international markets became a major priority in September 1999 with the publication of a policy paper entitled ‘Kennis: geven en nemen’ (‘Knowledge: give and take’). In the paper, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science described two instruments to serve this aim.

Educational information centers would be set up in a number of countries, and a sizeable scholarship programme would be created for students from these countries. In mid-2000 Nuffic was given the job of working out the details. The plan for establishing Netherlands Education Support Offices (NESOs) was presented in a document called ‘Voorposten op de internationale markt van het onderwijs’ (‘Outposts on the international market for education’).

NESOs in support of Dutch higher education were established in June 2001 in Beijing (China) and Taipei (Taiwan). These will be followed by one in Indonesia in 2002. The NESOs mark the first important step towards making a name in these countries for Dutch higher education.

The NESOs will make it possible for the universities and other higher education institutions of the Netherlands to establish and maintain direct and more intensive contact with institutions, staff and students in the countries in question. Although the NESOs will begin with the generic promotion of Dutch higher education as a whole, they will also provide general and specific services for the Dutch institutions that take part as members.

The NESOs will, of course, work closely with other agencies supported by the Dutch government, such as the embassies and consulates and the business support offices of the Economic Information Service.

The NESOs will be supported in their work by the Project Office for the International Marketing of Dutch Higher Education, which is part of Nuffic’s Department for Communication. Each NESO has its own coordinator within the project office who serves as the contact person for the NESO director and the higher education institutions.

NESOs have four main functions, the relative importance of which will vary from one country to the next:

  1. generic promotion of Dutch higher education as a whole;
  2. stimulation of cooperation between institutions;
  3. recruitment of paying students;
  4. procurement of contracts from national or multilateral organizations.


The fulfillment of all these functions involves activities and services that in different but complementary ways benefit the government and educational institutions that are a partner of NESO.

The government and Nuffic make important contributions to the NESO’s efforts by providing basic infrastructure and the materials used for the generic promotion of Dutch higher education.

The institutions become members of one or more NESOs, paying a basic fee in exchange for a set of basic services. These basic services are delivered to the institutions collectively. Membership also makes an institution eligible for participation in the new scholarship programme known as ‘Delta’.

Special services

Extra, special services are available for an additional fee. Institutions become members of individual NESOs and call on their services separately. Fees are calculated to cover real costs, which include salaries paid to staff for the hours in question, plus material costs and overheads

Netherlands Education Support Office (NESO), Beijing

The Netherlands Education Support Office (NESO) in Beijing was officially founded in June 2001 by the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic), with the active support of the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and Dutch educational institutions. The NESO in Beijing is the sole representative of Dutch higher education in China, serving the interests of the institutions in the Netherlands that are its members.

The main tasks of the NESO are:
– to promote Dutch education in China;
– to inform the Dutch educational institutions about the Chinese market for education and training and to help them gain access to that market;
– to encourage and facilitate cooperation between Chinese and Dutch educational institutions;
– to foster international student exchanges by recruiting Chinese students and administering scholarship programmes;
– to procure contracts from national and multilateral organizations.

The NESO in Beijing functions under a unique partnership between Nuffic and the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE). The CSCSE has been commissioned by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China to promote scholarly exchanges between China and other parts of the world. CSCSE is responsible for recruiting, pre-selecting and placing Chinese candidates in educational institutions in the Netherlands.