Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam), the Netherlands

Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam is a research university which offers a supportive community approach to learning. VU boasts one of the strongest theology faculties in the Netherlands, and is internationally renowned. The University has a strong international outlook, and its Masters courses are taught primarily in English.

VU Amsterdam website

Who can go?

Postgraduate students on taught and research courses in the School of Divinity.

There is currently a limit of one postgraduate research student and one postgraduate student on a taught programme per academic year for a period of three to six months. Available places may vary from year to year depending on the exchange balance.

PhD students are considered staff (not registered as students) by VU and would, therefore, come via an Erasmus staff exchange. This is coordinated by the Divinity Faculty and the Erasmus staff coordinator.

How to apply

You must complete the and email your application to the CSA team at studyabroad@st-andrews.ac.uk. You should submit this by the following deadlines:

  • For Semester 1 or full academic year entry: 15 April
  • For Semester 2 entry: 15 October.

If you are selected to participate in the exchange, St Andrews will nominate you to VU. You will then be required to complete VU’s application, a link to which will be provided to successful students only.

Current students can contact study abroad coordinators to find out more. 

Your studies

The academic year at VU runs from the start September to end of June and is divided into Semester 1 and Semester 2.

Arrival days, orientation and the introduction programme are scheduled during the last two weeks of August (Semester 1) or the Friday before the start of Semester 2.

Students are issued with a personal VU email address and will have full access to the university network (VUNET), library facilities, computer rooms and study areas.

The main entrance to VU

Passports and visas

EU citizens can study in the Netherlands without a visa or a residence permit, provided they have a valid passport. Find out more about visas, residence permits and visa information for family members on VU’s website.

You should ensure that your passport is valid for the duration of your trip, and for at least six months after you return to the UK. You should scan your passport and keep a copy for your records.

If you are a European Union national, you will not require a visa and may enter the European Union countries with your passport or national identity card. Please note that you may have to comply with legal obligations, such as registering your address with the local authorities.

If you are an international student who has a visa to study in the UK, and you have any questions about the implications of studying or working abroad whilst matriculated at St Andrews, you should consult Student Services by emailing advint@st-andrews.ac.uk. You can also check the passports and visas page for further information.

About the University

Academic research and education at VU is characterised by a high level of ambition, and encourages free and open communication and ideas. VU stands for academic freedom and independence, which is reflected in the name (‘VU’ is the Dutch abbreviation for ‘free university’): free from the church, state and any commercial interest.

VU Amsterdam's central campus is located in a single building complex in Amsterdam’s business district and features a range of facilities for teaching and research. Almost all students, staff and programmes are located here.

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and is a historic and diverse city where English is widely spoken. Featuring the perfect balance of history, culture and innovation, Amsterdam is a welcoming European hub.

Students chat together on VU campus steps


As an exchange student, you will not pay tuition fees to your host university, and will only be liable for your normal St Andrews tuition fees.

Research Council students should make sure that they have their funding body’s permission to study abroad, notifying them particularly for any mobility grants that they may be receiving.

VU provides information about estimated costs of living in Amsterdam. You will be responsible for meeting any additional costs accruing from accommodation, food, travel, etc.


VU offers co-ed accommodation that consists of furnished or unfurnished single rooms with private or shared facilities.

Exchange students can apply for student housing through the central International Office at VU. A handling fee is required for this service. Students will be informed about the procedure following a successful application. Unfortunately, housing cannot be guaranteed.

The deadlines for confirming accommodation and payment of the handling fee for housing are:

  • For Semester 1 entry: June 1
  • For Semester 2 entry: December 1.

Find out more about accommodation options for postgraduate international students at VU.

Canal in Amsterdam

Travel and transport

Amsterdam has excellent international air connections, with Schiphol Airport being the closest airport. Schiphol Airport has its own train station; it takes around 10 minutes to travel by train to Amsterdam Zuid WTC station, from which you can take a tram or the sneltram (express tram) into the Amsterdam city centre or to VU.

It takes around 20 minutes from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station, from which you can take many trams and metros. Travelling from Schiphol to the city centre by taxi is a more expensive option which may save you some time but will cost more.

Amsterdam has an extensive public transport system (train, tram and bus). The purchase of an OV-chipkaart (similar to London’s Oyster card) is recommended for regular users of public transport. However, previous exchange students have advocated that the best and cheapest way to get around is by bike.

Nearby cities such as The Hague, Leiden, Rotterdam and Utrecht are easily reachable by train from Amsterdam within a couple of hours.

A cyclist and pedestrians on a street in Amsterdam

Student support

VU offers international students an orientation programme before the start of each academic semester. The programme consists of social activities, information about registration at the municipality, sports and cultural facilities for students, ICT, opening a bank account, etc. Students are strongly advised to attend this welcome programme.

The University also offers exchange students the opportunity to be matched to a Dutch VU student. Your buddy will help you with academic, practical, as well as social matters.

During your studies, you can access VU’s International Service Desk (ISD), which handles general queries from international students, or the Student Desk, for questions regarding student cards, exams and modules.

Students can take Dutch language courses at the Department of Dutch as a second language.

A building on VU campus


Global Office
University of St Andrews
Bute Building
Westburn Lane
St Andrews
KY16 9TS

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2245
Email: studyabroad@st-andrews.ac.uk