Advice on choosing a university in The Netherlands

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  • #1
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I have been accepted for a MSc of Physics and Astronomy at some universities in The Netherlands and Belgium and i have to decide which one to chose. I applied for similar programs in all of them, namely a programme focused on (experimental) particle physics.

The Universities are: Univ. of Amsterdam, Univ. of Groningen, Radboud University (Nijmegen) and VU Brussels.

I am really interesed in pursueing a phd after i finish my masters. SO do you have any knowledge about these universities and is there a best choice as regards to the field i wish to study?
My thoughts are to go to Amsterdam or Groningen because as far as I know these are the most "prestigious" universities in the Netherlands in the field of physics.

Please share your thoughts on this.
Thanks
 

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  • #2
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Nikhef is the keyword here - all three Dutch universities seem to be involved in it. It has all the well-known particle physics groups in the Netherlands.
As it is in Amsterdam the University of Amsterdam could make some things easier. Oh, and living in Amsterdam is great as well.
 
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  • #3
BvU
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Nikhef is the keyword here - all three Dutch universities seem to be involved in it. It has all the well-known particle physics groups in the Netherlands.
As it is in Amsterdam the University of Amsterdam could make some thing easier. Oh, and living in Amsterdam is great as well.
All three universities mentioned in #1 plus several others. Just so you don't get the idea NL only has three universities :smile: .
And Amsterdam is very nice to live indeed, if a) you can afford it and b) you don't have anything else to do (like work hard for a degree).
 
  • #4
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Thank you for your answers!

So is it worth going to University of Amsterdam despite the greater financial effort? @BvU makes a good point, I assume i will spend a lot of time studying or working so I will not fully experience the city. Bottom line, I do not have the money nor the time to completely benefit from living in Amsterdam. However, I would like to choose the place with the best education and (phd) opportunities after I graduate. I also think about working part time at some point during these two years so I believe in Amsterdam would be easier to get a job (without knowing Dutch). I really oscillate between Amsterdam and Groningen. From what I have read, University of Groningen has a long time tradition in physics and was/is fairly renowned. Also the city of Groningen would be a little more comfortable financially.

Does anyone know about Belgian universities? How do you see VU Brussels or KU Leuven vs Dutch universities?
 
  • #5
bigfooted
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MSc and PhD are pretty much decoupled in the Netherlands, so you could go anywhere you want after your Masters. You could also choose then to go to Utrecht or Leiden,
http://web.science.uu.nl/ITF/
https://www.lorentz.leidenuniv.nl/

Because of the decoupling, it does not matter that much where you do your masters when you want to continue with a PhD. I'd place Amsterdam a bit higher on the list, based on location and international connections (more international profs and students), but it is much cheaper as a student in Nijmegen or Groningen. They are both very nice cities.

Brussels and Leuven/Louvain la Neuve are also good universities, but you have to speak french.
 
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MSc and PhD are pretty much decoupled in the Netherlands, so you could go anywhere you want after your Masters. You could also choose then to go to Utrecht or Leiden,
http://web.science.uu.nl/ITF/
https://www.lorentz.leidenuniv.nl/

Because of the decoupling, it does not matter that much where you do your masters when you want to continue with a PhD. I'd place Amsterdam a bit higher on the list, based on location and international connections (more international profs and students), but it is much cheaper as a student in Nijmegen or Groningen. They are both very nice cities.

Brussels and Leuven/Louvain la Neuve are also good universities, but you have to speak french.
Untrue, I am a student at VUB and I speak Dutch. There is however the French alternative ULB.
 
  • #7
bigfooted
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Untrue, I am a student at VUB and I speak Dutch. There is however the French alternative ULB.
Yes, I mixed VUB and ULB up. But Brussels has become more and more french-speaking, and the french-speaking part does not speak English very well (let alone dutch). So french in brussels (or in Louvain) is still very useful.
 
  • #8
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So guys, thank you for your opinions. In the end I chose Amsterdam. It is a joint programme UvA/VU in particle physics (Grappa track). I also managed to find a slightly low-budget rent so I will be OK financially.
However, I still have 1 unanswered question, which perhaps can be addressed by the last 2 users that posted here. How do you see Belgian Universities (VUB in particular) vs Dutch Universities? Are there big differences, like can someone say with certainty that Dutch unis are better or Belgian unis are better? My only information comes from the university rankings websites (Amsterdam being ranked highest on this list from all the universities that I mentioned), however I don't know how accurate this is.
 
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  • #9
bigfooted
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These rankings are close to useless.

Yes, there are probably differences between number 1 and number 100. But what did they measure really? And how sensitive is this ranking? Is there really a noticeable difference between numbers 80 and 100? Of course everybody likes rankings because they seem objective and you can strive to improve your position on the list. But rankings are usually based on a small number of indicators. The Shanghai ranking for instance is based partly on papers published in nature and science, and number of nobel laureates among the alumni. The first indicator, publishing in science/nature, will just pressurize staff to focus on research that can be published in these journals. And the second, well can a university really influence this actively? How can you create an environment that will produce nobel prize winning research? Well, for one, you should put most of your money in quantum physics groups or astrophysics groups. Bad luck if you like to work on fluid dynamics.
 
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