In addition to doing a PhD in the Netherlands, PhD research can also be – partially or fully – carried out abroad. In addition, a PhD candidate can choose to do an internship or fellowship abroad during their PhD trajectory in the Netherlands. International experience is invaluable and increases future career opportunities in academia and beyond.
Building an international network, gaining new knowledge and experience with methods and techniques that are not applied in the Netherlands, as well as working and publishing together with international colleagues are some of the perks of going abroad. Moreover, international experience is crucial for developing social and (inter)cultural skills.
To start with, a PhD candidate should get in touch with their university’s International Office, or contact the institution abroad directly. There might be official internship or fellowship programmes, but oftentimes it will be possible to organize a tailor-made stay in consultation with the institution abroad. To do this, it may be best to contact the specific department or research group directly.
There are a few ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ aspects that have to be taken into account when planning a stay at an institution abroad during your PhD trajectory.
First, the PhD candidate has to be aware of the language and cultural differences, with regards to both the country and the host institution. For example, the host institution may have rules and structures around education and research that are different from what exists at universities in the Netherlands. In addition, it is important to think in advance of the less pleasant aspects of living and working abroad, such as loneliness and safety issues. For example, it would be good to determine in advance how access to social services, such as psychological care, is organized.
Second, the PhD candidate needs to collect information around visas, the Dutch embassy abroad, accommodation, (health)insurance, and funding opportunities well in advance. With regards to the latter, PhD candidates can apply for scholarships but sometimes it is also possible to do paid work for a limited number of hours on a study visa. In addition, it is crucial to start early with collecting information around the procedures for ethical assessment and approval to carry out scientific research abroad. Also take into account any possible political sensitivities around certain research topics or around doing (scientific) research itself.
Here is the link to PNN’s website with more information about research grants and funding opportunities.
Nuffic is the organisation for internationalizing education in the Netherlands. Nuffic provides information around studying and working abroad. Their website Beursopener provides an overview of scholarships and small research grants.
Euraxess is part of the European Commission, offering a wealth of information about working abroad as a researcher. Their website provides an overview of Euraxess’ country offices that in turn in-depth information on the (academic) research landscape in that particular country.