Frequently asked questions
Is your question not answered here? The International Office can help you! You are more than welcome to ask your questions during the information sessions of the Study Abroad Weeks. And of course, you can also reach us via e-mail, phone, or MS Teams. Have a look at the contact page for the different ways of getting in touch.
Should I go on an exchange?
If you go on an exchange, you study for a semester or a full year at one of Utrecht University’s partner universities, while students from the partner university can come to Utrecht. During your exchange you remain enrolled at Utrecht University, which means that you also pay your tuition fees to Utrecht University and don’t have to pay tuition fees to the partner university abroad. The courses you take abroad will be included in your own study programme on your return; the credits count towards your examination programme.
A summerschool or a Master’s programme abroad is not considered as an exchange programme, so the International Office cannot provide you with support in these situations.
An exchange has all kinds of positive aspects.
- Academic challenge: you familiarise yourself with a different academic approach;
- It’s good for your personal development;
- It looks good on your CV: many employers believe that experience abroad is an advantage;
- You could learn or improve one or more foreign languages;
- You make friends around the world and improve your intercultural skills;
- You are fully immersed in a different culture;
- It is a unique and fantastic experience.
Should you want to read the experiences of other students, you can find their study abroad reports on the destination-pages of the respective universities.
You can only go on an exchange if:
- You are enrolled as a full-time student at Utrecht University and thus pay tuition at Utrecht University;
- You have obtained at least 60 EC if you are a bachelor's student;
- The courses you seek to take abroad can and will be used as part of your study programme.
The host university can also impose requirements, such as:
- Proof of proficiency in a specific language;
- Average grade: a few partner universities require a certain ‘grade point average’ (GPA).
The requirements set by host universities can be found on the destinations page.
An exchange of 30 EC fits in well with a Bachelor's degree programme if it is included in your optional course profile. In principle, you can graduate within the nominal timeframe. If you are in any doubt, discuss the options with your study adviser.
Studying abroad fits within a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree programme. However, some students choose to go at a later moment, i.e. after completing their degree programme at Utrecht University. Permission for this must be requested from the Board of Examiners. You can do this as soon as you have received confirmation from the Board of Examiners that you have graduated. You can then apply for an extension.
You can also decide, after completing your studies at UU, to continue studying or carry out research under your own responsibility. The International Office will not be able to support you in this.
The costs depend on the destination you choose and what you spend your money on. The best thing is to start by working out your available budget. Then look at the expected costs of a number of destinations. A useful tool for this is a budget form that will be discussed during the Finance workshop. The destinations page also has a list for each destination of the approximate costs of accommodation, transport, meals, etc.
If you remain within Europe and your exchange comes under the Erasmus programme, you can apply for an Erasmus grant. The amount you receive will depend on your destination, because some countries are more expensive than others. In some cases you may be eligible for a top-up for students with fewer opportunities.
Sadly there are few grants for exchanges outside Europe. More information on grants can be found here.
Your DUO loan can continue as normal and will not affect your Erasmus grant. You can also apply to DUO for a refund for the months that you will not be using your student travel card. In 2023 this refund amounts to 120 euros per month.
Support for students with disabilities varies between universities. Go to the website of the partner university to find out what help and facilities they offer, and check whether these meet your needs. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact the International Office. They can always contact the host university if needed.
Choosing a destination
Utrecht University has many agreements with universities abroad. The list of destinations that are suitable for you will depend on your study programme, the courses you wish to take, and the type of agreement we have with the host university. Here, we will explain the difference between university-wide partners and faculty partners.
- All UU students can go to these destinations and you can often choose from a wide range of courses, even outside of your usual subject area, if you meet the conditions.
- Each destination has a certain number of places available, which you can see on the respective destination page. At times, lots will be drawn for a certain destination. In which case, you will see that "selection was necessary in the last few years", written below the number of places.
- Only students from a specific faculty and/or department are eligible for these destinations. This means that you can take courses within your subject field at these universities.
- There is usually a selection, based on a motivation letter, your grades, and resume. The selection procedure differs per faculty.
- Are there more applicants than places available? Then students with the best records are selected.
You can a full list of partner universities on the destination page. Click "All UU students" and your faculty in the sidebar on the left, and you'll be left with all universities available to you!
There are a number of criteria on which you can base your choice. The most important is the match between the range of subjects offered by the partner university and the options within your study programme.
When searching for a destination, ask yourself the following questions:
- What subjects are available for exchange students?
- How would these fit in my study programme in Utrecht?
- Do I have enough background knowledge to be able to take these subjects?
Check carefully whether you meet the ‘firm requirements’, such as:
- Language requirement
- Level (Bachelor or Master)
- Entry requirements
Then think about what you feel is important for yourself, such as:
- Size of the host university
- Ranking or reputation of the university
- Number of international students
Then, with the most important criteria for yourself in mind, read the destinations page and the study abroad reports. These generally give a good idea of what it is like to study at a particular institution
If the university you want to go to is not on the list of partners, Utrecht University does not have an exchange agreement with it. It means that you cannot go to that university as an exchange student.
If you absolutely want to go to a specific destination with which Utrecht University does not have an agreement, you can see whether you can study there as a visiting student or ‘free mover’. Often this means that you will have to pay tuition fees to take courses, which are usually quite expensive. You will have to arrange everything yourself as Utrecht University does not provide any support for this. You must request approval from the Board of Examiners and provide sufficient evidence of the level and content of the courses with your request. A disadvantage of going as a freemover is that you cannot apply for a grant.
Utrecht University’s policy is to follow the travel advice of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bear this in mind when choosing a possible destination. For more information, look under the heading ‘travel advice’ on this website.
TRAVEL ADVICE (BY DUTCH MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS)
When choosing your exchange destination, keep the following in mind: Utrecht University follows the advice given by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This means students are not allowed to plan their studies, internship / resident, in a region which is coded red or orange (see table below), without consultation with the UU.
The colour codes have the following explanation:
|Green||no special security risks|
|Yellow||attention: security risks|
|Orange||travel only when necessary|
|Red||do not travel|
The International Offices of Utrecht University are informed about the travel advice. When code red or orange is given, students are not allowed to travel. Study programmes and boards of examiners are advised not to approve plans, award credits or award grants for study related activities in these areas.
Should the official travel advice change to orange during your stay abroad, the university will always contact you. Because your safety is important to us, we aim to tailor our advice to your specific situation. Utrecht University may urgently advise you to return to the Netherlands. Discuss your situation with your exchange coordinator from the International Office, so that you can decide together which steps you should take to ensure your safety.
In many countries, education is also provided in English. It is not always necessary for you to speak the language of the country, although it is advisable to gain a basic knowledge before you leave.
If you are planning to take subjects in a language other than Dutch or English, you must be proficient in this language at least at B1 level of the European reference framework. However, in order to participate fully in the courses, we recommend a proficiency at B2 level.
Some partner universities offer rooms on campus, while at other universities you will need to arrange this yourself. On the destinations page of Utrecht University, under the heading ‘housing assistance’, you will see for each destination how you can arrange accommodation and what the average costs are. This kind of information is also often stated on the partner university’s website. You can also ask students who have previously been to that destination.
The educational culture can vary from destination to destination. Think, for example, of oral examinations, whether or not a critical attitude is valued, or if there is a highly formal relationship between the teaching staff and students. If you want to know more about the educational culture of a particular destination, you could read the student reports on the destinations pages.
Application and Selection
We recommend that at the end of your first year you start considering the options if you want to study abroad for a semester in your third year. In October, the annual Study Abroad Weeks take place. We encourage you to join the sessions to learn about, for example, financing your exchange, how to choose a destination, etcetera. The deadline for applications is 1 December for studying abroad in the following academic year. It means that you already have to apply in your second year for an exchange in the third year.
Most students go on an exchange of one semester. In some cases it is also possible to study abroad for a full year, depending on the time you have available in your study programme. It may mean that you have a delay in completing the degree programme. Sometimes it is possible during your stay abroad to extend your exchange by a semester to a full year. Always make sure that you discuss this with the International Office.
It is not possible to go abroad for just one teaching term. The minimum is one semester.
Apply via Osiris. Instructions on how to apply can be found here.
The application deadline for studying abroad in 2024-2025 is 1 December 2023 at 23.59!
We select students for exchange destinations in three rounds.
- In the first round, as many students as possible will be placed at the university of their first choice;
- In the second round, as many of the remaining students as possible will be placed at the university of their second choice;
- This process repeats itself in the third round. You can thus only be placed at the university of your second (or third) choice of these are still spots left after the first round.
75% of students will be selected for their first choice.
For every application, we first check to see if you meet the three conditions to go on an exchange. For destinations with too many applications, the selection proces is as follows:
- For universitywide destinations, we draw lots. In case of overapplication at a universitywide destination, exchange is only possible for 1 semester and not for a whole year.
- For faculty destinations the selection process varies per faculty. Check your study programme to see which selection rules apply.
Your top 3 can be a combination of faculty and universitywide destinations. It does not influence your chances of being placed. For more than half of the destinations, there are more available places than applications, in those cases direct placement is a possibility
In the past few years, destinations where 'selection was necessary' is mentioned on the website were full after the first round. We advise you not to select these as your 2nd or 3rd choice.
Your entire file will be read by the exchange coordinator responsible at Utrecht University. It means that applications for faculty destinations will be read by one of the coordinators of the International Office for Humanities, while applications for university-wide applications will be passed on to the university-wide International Office. Your file will not be read by the host university.
We aim to communicate the outcome of the selections at the end of January and will inform you by email.
We expect your plans to go on an exchange to be realistic. With some destinations there will be more interested students than places. Bear in mind, therefore, that other students would probably have been very happy to get your place. Of course we cannot force anyone to travel abroad. Circumstances can always change and there is scope to reconsider your decision and cancel your exchange.
The deadline is 1 December. Most of the popular places will have already been allocated after then, but there will still be some options available. More information and a list of the available places can be found on the website.
This will depend on whether you are attending a university-wide destination or a faculty destination. Faculties will have agreements about which courses exchange students are allowed to take. You can find the specifications for each partner university under "areas of study open to exchange students" on their destination page.
With those specifications in mind, you can search for the course catalogue of your host university. A link to the catalogue will often be mentioned on its destination page, or you can find it on the website of that university.
When choosing your courses, take note of the requirements set by Utrecht University. You will find these on the page of your study programme.
It is important that you think carefully about the subjects you want to take, and how they fit in to your examination programme at Utrecht University. You cannot take courses that have too much overlap with the courses you have already taken, or will still take, at UU.
The courses you take at your host university must be approved by the Board of Examiners beforehand. How this works exactly and what you need in order to do this, you will find under the heading "study abroad" on the page of your study programme.
Also think about how you will benefit by taking these subjects abroad. What can you do there that you can’t do in Utrecht?
It is quite unusual, but in some cases it is possible to replace compulsory courses by the courses you take abroad. Discuss this carefully beforehand with your Contact Person Study Abroad. You also always need to obtain approval from the Board of Examiners.
We expect you to be studying full-time during your stay at the partner university. Normally speaking you take 30 EC (or equivalent) in courses. If you do not need 30 EC to graduate, in some cases you can take fewer subjects. A minimum of 22.5 EC per semester is required. Partner universities can sometimes impose other requirements, which may be higher. Remember that you must obtain at least 22.5 EC to keep your Erasmus grant.
You will then obtain fewer than 30 EC. You will need to compensate for the credits you have not obtained by taking another course at another moment. You must also consider, though, what this means for your Erasmus grant, as in order to keep it you must have followed at least 22.5 EC abroad.
Most partner universities send transcripts of records to the International Office. Subjects you have passed abroad must count towards the examination programme you are taking at Utrecht University. It is your responsibility to request this from the Board of Examiners through ‘Zaak’ (‘Case’) in Osiris. The website for your degree programme will explain how to do this.
Results achieved abroad are converted into a pass or fail (V/ONV, voldoende/onvoldoende). The original subjects and grades will also be recorded in Osiris and printed on the International Diploma Supplement. The results do not count towards your average. Generally speaking your results will be included in your optional course profile. The conversion of credits and grades achieved abroad is laid down in the Education and Examination Regulations of your degree programme.
Most European universities use EC (European credits), and normally speaking you obtain 30 EC per semester. For universities that do not use EC, a conversion table.
It’s often the case that it won’t be possible yet to establish precisely what courses will be offered at the moment you start your studies abroad. Often you will therefore have to base your choices on the range of subjects offered during the current academic year. This will require a level of flexibility on your part.
During your exchange
The number of contact hours at the university will vary from destination to destination, so the amount of time you will have to yourself will also vary depending on the destination.
AlIf you have enough free time beside your studies, you can of course choose to do some travelling while you're there. For example, you could travel to your destination a little earlier, before the semester begins, to explore your new surroundings. In addition, many students choose to stay on a little longer after the exchange in order to travel. You may also have recess weeks, during which you can travel. The Erasmus network ESN is active in many cities and often organises trips you can join, so it would be worth looking them up.
Whether or not you can work during your exchange will depend on the destination. Outside Europe it will depend on the conditions of your visa, if you need one, and insurance. Within Europe, work may have consequences for your insurance.
Although a part-time job may be a nice bonus, we advise you not to work during your exchange if you can manage financially without it. You are at your destination for only a short time and will often want to do as much as you can while you’re there. In order to focus fully on your experience of studying abroad, we advise you not to take on work obligations.
No, the principle of an exchange is based on taking courses full-time (30 EC). Furthermore, a thesis supervisor cannot be guaranteed at the partner institution.
The International Office (IO) of your host university is your first point of contact during your exchange. Are you stuck on a question, is the IO of your host university unresponsive? Then you can of course get in touch with us. Send an email to the IO of your faculty if you're attending a faculty destination, and send an email to the university-wide IO if you're attending a university-wide destination.
For signing documents like your Learning Agreement or Certificate of Attendance, please contact the relevant IO of Utrecht University.
If you are enrolled in two Bachelor’s studies at the same time and want to go on an exchange, it is important that you look carefully at what would best fit in your study programme. Discuss this with the study adviser(s) of your degree programme(s). Think carefully about the subjects you want to take while abroad, and when deciding on the subjects consider the options and limitations of the various destinations you can choose from.
Are both study programmes at the same faculty? If so, you can choose destinations of that faculty, as well as university-wide destinations, and have your course planner signed by the Contact Person Study Abroad for the degree programme for which you will officially be going abroad. Results achieved abroad may count towards both study programmes. State this clearly with your request for approval for the subjects and when you submit your list of marks to the Office of Examinations at the end of your exchange.
Are your study programmes at two different faculties? Then look carefully at the degree programme page for your degree programme(s) and contact the International Office of that faculty. If you will be studying abroad mainly through that degree programme, you can choose from the destinations of the faculty concerned and the university-wide options. Please note: if you are on an exchange under a contract of a particular faculty, you may also (often) have to take subjects of that faculty abroad. It is quite possible that you cannot combine your degree programmes abroad and that you will have to focus on one of the two. The university-wide destinations often have a broader range of subjects open to you. The results achieved abroad can count towards both of your programmes. Follow the Humanities procedure for the Bachelor’s degree programme you are taking here, and check on the degree programme page for your second Bachelor’s degree programme the procedure at the other faculty.
This is possible but is coordinated by the internship office and not by the International Office. With the exception of the NVT internships (as described below), it does not form part of a standard exchange abroad. It is possible, though, to apply for an Erasmus grant. More information can be found here. Go also to your degree programme page. Remember that you must also take into account a preparation period of at least six months to a year if you want to do an internship abroad.
There is one exception to the information given above: the Dutch as a Foreign Language (Nederlands als Vreemde Taal -NVT) internship. The NVT internship is part of the study abroad during a semester (two teaching terms). This internship counts for 10 to 15 EC, depending on the destination and the work available there. The remaining 15 to 20 EC are achieved by taking courses at the host university alongside the internship. For more information, please contact the NVT internship coordinator, Emmeline Besamusca.
If there is overlap in the academic calendar of the UU and your host university, you are responsible for finding the best way to go about this. It is of course advised to choose a university where there is no overlap.
Here are a few possible solutions (but there is no guarantee that you can go abroad without any study delays):
You are still abroad in semester 1 and are taking examens there, while the third teaching period in Utrecht is commencing
- Ask your host university if you can take your examen in Utrecht. The International Office can provide a room and supervision for you, provided you request it well in time with the approval of your host university.
- Alternatively, you can ask your host university if you can take the exam earlier and thus complete the course earlier. Again, please discuss this in a timely manner with your host university.
- Ask the course coordinator(s) of the course(s) you are taking in the third teaching period at UU if you could possible miss the start of that course, or attend online, and agree on potential additional assignments.
You are following courses at UU in the second teaching period, while semester 2 at your host university is commencing
- Opt not to take any courses at UU in the second teaching period, and make sure you compensate for the missing EC at another moment. This is, of course, not possible if you have compulsory courses in the second teaching period.
- Ask the course coordinator(s) of the course(s) you are taking in the second teaching period at UU if you could finish the course earlier and make clear arrangement on how to do this.
- If you get approval from your course coordinator(s) to take an exam while abroad, make sure to arrange this with your host university as well.
- Ask your host university if it is possible to start your exchange semester later. We do not recommend this, because this would lead you to miss the introduction/orientation period.