While half the Dutch population is going on holiday, Dutch universities will be opening their gates to thousands of students and scientists from far-away places who will be coming to the Netherlands to attend summer schools.

This year, Utrecht’s Summer School is attracting more than 3,500 students, who will be taking courses in subjects ranging from law to physics and from art to statistics. “We have Europe’s largest summer school,” said its founder, Jeroen Torenbeek. Students will be able to take their pick from no fewer than 240 courses. The majority of these will be taught by Utrecht University, but Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and HKU University of the Arts will also teach a few.

Rotterdam Summer School

Utrecht first offered summer school courses in 1987. Its example has been followed by many other universities in recent years. Summer schools are hip and happening. Erasmus Medical Centre has been offering summer courses for years. This year, Erasmus University, in association with Rotterdam’s universities of applied sciences, will also be teaching courses, such as Creative Writing, Effective Leadership and Communication, and Trans-Atlantic Realities in the 21st Century.

Summer schools bring in some money for the universities. If it weren’t for summer school students, rooms normally used by exchange students would remain vacant during the summer months. Many universities feel that it is better to rent out these rooms to course attendees, thus earning a little rent money. Fees range from a few hundreds of euros per week to several thousands of euros for longer courses, depending on the course subject as well.

However, summer schools are not cash cows. They are mainly a way to share one’s love for a particular subject with others and to recruit talent. “In Maastricht, we saw that some summer school attendees went on to become Master’s students,” said Krijnen. “We also got this one person who wanted to do his PhD here. I introduced him to a professor. They went and had some coffee together, and a year later, he was working with us.”


To some students, summer schools are not just interesting, but efficient and cheap. “Sometimes they don’t have the means to study abroad for a whole semester,” said Eva Janssen of Amsterdam VU University’s Summer School. “This will allow them to gain some international experience, after all. And for American students summer school can be a useful way to complete their expensive degrees more quickly.” Because obviously, students will be awarded credits for any summer school courses they take.

About 200 people signed up for Rotterdam Summer School. Not a bad score for this first trial year, said Ad Hofstede, the Managing Director of the Erasmus Academy and the trailblazer for Rotterdam Summer School. Unfortunately, many of these 200 people will not show up. Approximately 50 attendees have so far paid their fees. “We are considering 2016 a learning experience,” said Hofstede. “Next year we will do certain things differently. For instance, we will announce the programme earlier.”