Many students find that the start of the new year is the best time to think about experiencing the adventure of studying abroad. But what’s the best university to attend? Which city offers the most enjoyable student lifestyle? And how do EUR and Rotterdam perform in this area?

To answer these questions, SteXX (The Student Experience Exchange platform) offers more than 170 thousand reviews submitted by students regarding their study programme abroad and the cities where they lived during their studies. The website, an initiative of the European Commission, compiles all this data in order to identify which cities and universities scored best.

Better than Slovenia

In the Netherlands, Radboud University, University of Groningen and VU University Amsterdam had the highest score with a 9+. EUR – due to an insufficient number of reviews – was not assigned a final score. In 2015 however, the Rotterdam-based university received a score of 8+.

If we look at individual responses, then reviewers laud EUR for its modern, interactive English-taught education (“You can learn more in a single year here than in four years in Slovenia”) and the doors a diploma from this ‘prestigious’ university opens when seeking a job. The city itself is appealing due to its architecture and nightlife. Less enjoyable was the sometimes extremely challenging education requiring a high degree of independent learning, cost of living expenses, and high tuition fees.

Hurrah for Rotterdam’s nightlife
Hurrah for Rotterdam’s nightlife

Extreem eerlijk

At the level of which European country offers the most enjoyable experience, Norway – despite its astronomically high prices for alcohol – was the big winner, with the University of Oslo the jewel in the crown. “It was the best, the absolute best time of my life”, recounts one student about his time up north. The other countries in the top three are Ireland (“a home away from home”), and Poland (“I’ll never regret my choice to come here”).

The Netherlands only came in 18th (just above the last three countries in the ranking: Lithuania, Turkey and France), even though the differences are minimal – Norway scored 9.3 while the Netherlands scored 8.7. International students described Dutch culture as ‘process driven and extremely straightforward’. “If you’re looking for a life-changing experience, consider this unconventional yet prestigious study destination”, wrote one student about his experience.

Snelle tegenvaller

SteXX noted that Dutch students – along with their Finnish counterparts – are the most negative about their experiences abroad. The researchers suspect this is because the standard of living and the quality of the study environment in these countries is so good that both groups are more easily disappointed by experiences in other countries. The most enthusiastic students were the French, closely followed by Italians and Greeks.

Looking at countries with the highest rated universities, we see Spain is the winner with 27 academies receiving remarkably good reviews. Next is Germany with 15, followed by Italy and Finland (both with 11). 14 universities on SteXX received a rating of 9 or higher, but no Dutch institutions were among them