Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ guide to international schools in Maastricht, Utrecht

One of the bigger challenges for English-speaking expat families – even for well-paid corporate nomads – is finding a satisfactory, English-language international school.

Such schools cater to expat students with curricula tied to the host nation in question, or to an international education organization such as Edexcel, Cambridge International Examinations, and International Baccalaureate; if you’re curious about the International Baccalaureate program, by the by, we have an excellent primer for your convenience.

Wherever you’re headed, do not wait to get there before starting the application process, which can be lengthy. With business growing ever more global, many schools have more applications than spaces. You may also want to check out your school of choice in person as well as interview parents whose children attend already, in case the reality fails to match the promotional literature and beautiful photos of campus life.

In this post, we’re going to look at schools in two Dutch cities with large multinational populations.




Located on the Belgian/Dutch border in the southernmost point of the Netherlands, Maastricht is the birthplace of the European Union, European citizenship, and the euro, all of which came into force in 1993 following the 1992 signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Maastricht is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network, and holds the disputed title of Netherlands’ oldest city with Nijmegen, both of which saw Roman influence between 1st century BC and 1st Century AD.

Companies such as British telecom Vodafone, German automaker Mercedes-Benz, and German chemical producer BASF have a presence in the city, as do EU institutions such as the European Journalism Centre, Eurocontrol, and the European Centre for Digital Communication.

History buffs will be floored by the number of national heritage sites Maastricht boasts (1,677; only Amsterdam has more), while those more into celebratory occasions have a full calendar of events to check out, from the Amstel Gold Race cycling race and the Nederlandse Dansdagen modern dance festival, to the Jazz Maastricht jazz festival and, of course, the three-day Carnaval (English: Carnival) prior to Ash Wednesday and Lent.

200px-United_World_College_Maastricht_logoUWC Maastricht: We have but a single stop on our tour of international schools in Maastricht, United World College Maastricht. UWC Maastricht is the result of the September 2009 merger of the International School of Maastricht with the International Department of Joppenhof Pre- and Primary School, and is the 12th UWC member (of 15 as of 2015) since UWC’s inception in 1962 with the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. The international school’s mission is to “deliver a challenging and transformational educational experience to a diverse cross-section of students, inspiring them to create a more peaceful and sustainable future” in line with the values of the UWC. Attendance through all grade levels at UWC Maastricht is over 860 students from more than 104 nationalities.

  • Fees (2015-16 academic year): 6,300 euros to 8,140 euros annual tuition, depending on grade level; 500 euros down payment; 600 euros application fee; 600  euros refundable secondary school fee; 550 euros moderation fee for International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program; 1,100 euros exam fee for IB Diploma 2 exam
  • Requirements: Completed application form; photocopy of passport/visa; last two years of academic records translated into English; signed School Fee form with proof of payment of application fee; proof of date of arrival in the Netherlands
  • Application Deadline: 500 euros down payment due now to ensure placement in following academic year
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: www.uwcmaastricht.nl


Utrecht is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, located an hour east of The Hague by train and a few minutes south of Amsterdam. The city has been the nation’s religious center since the 8th Century, and was the most important city of the Netherlands until Amsterdam’s ascension during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th Century. Utrecht University, the largest university in the country, was established in Utrecht in 1636, with about 30,000 of the city’s 70,000-plus student population every year.

Utrecht will be home to the world’s largest bicycle parking station once construction concludes in 2018, a three-floor building located near Central Railway Station, capable of holding 12,500 bicycles. And speaking of transportation, the city boasts a well-developed transportation network, including a container terminal along the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal with an annual capacity of 80,000 containers, as well as heavy and light rail lines, buses, and road transport. Both Nederlandse Spoorwegen (English: Dutch Railways; Netherlands’ largest rail operator) and ProRail (state-owned rail infrastructure company) are headquartered in Utrecht

logoInternational School Utrecht: There is only one international school here, International School Utrecht. First opening its doors in 2012, ISU welcomed 250 students aged 4-16 for the 2015-2016 academic year, collectively representing 25 nationalities. The international school “provides a challenging, rigorous and accessible intercultural learning environment to primary and secondary students from diverse international backgrounds.” ISU is an IB World member school, currently teaching both the IB Primary Years and Middle Years programs; the school is also an IB Diploma Program candidate and expects its first DP students August of 2016.

  • Fees (2015-16 academic year): 4,170 euros to  5,730 euros annual fee, depending on grade level; 250 euros admission fee; 500 euros deposit; 500 euro laptop fee (included in annual fee for grade 7 to 10 students)
  • Requirements: Completed application with necessary documentation attached
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: www.isutrecht.nl
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Lifestyle journalist. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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