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Amsterdam - Education and Schools

The higher education system in Amsterdam attracts students from all over the world. There are some stringent requirements for entering the country to study, including the need to show that you have enough money to live on during your stay (money from approved employment is acceptable) and proof of insurance. Regulations vary depending on your home country and length of stay. It's important to note that there are some special requirements for Chinese students who wish to study in Amsterdam.

The University of Amsterdam is at the heart of the city, providing advanced educational opportunities for both local students and many who choose Amsterdam for study. The focus is on research and the school touts more than 20,000 students. Established in 1632, this public school is one of the major universities in all of Europe. There are five major areas of study, including law and medicine.

Another university in Amsterdam is the Virje Universiteit, also known as VU. This is a protestant school with a focus on science. If you're considering heading to Amsterdam to study, you should note that there are housing requirements for students and no one under 18 years of age is allowed to live independently.

In the field of higher education, Amsterdam also plays home to one of the world's premier social history institutes - The International Institute of Social History. This school puts an emphasis on social history with special attention on the labor movement.

Children in Amsterdam are required to attend school from age 5, though some start at age 4. Children must attend school full time until they are 16, and must attend at least part-time until they are 18.

There is a system of International schools in place, with some funded and governed by the Ministry of Education. Some International schools use the educational program of a particular country so that you can find a school to educate your child as he would have been "at home." (Note that there is some discussion on this point and you should carefully track educational progress and goals.) In most cases, the goal is to provide a transition period to the child can thrive in a traditional Dutch school, though that's not always the case.

The elementary education requirements are generally met by the time the child is 12. When considering schools for primary education, it's important to note that many schools in Amsterdam have some particular focus. For some, this focus is religion and you have options covering many beliefs, including Catholic, Protestant and Muslim. For others, the focus is some particular discipline such as science.

There are some 7,000 schools in the Dutch education system and more than half of the Dutch children attend private schools. All secondary schools are under government control.

Secondary education in Amsterdam includes gymnasia - schools that typically focus on a classical education including Latin and Greek. These schools are very selective and only invite the most outstanding students to participate.

Placement in secondary schools will depend on how the child has fared in the lower eight grades. Students will be place in secondary schools to help them prepare for vocations or higher education. Don't be fooled into thinking the vocational tracks are less stringent. Students on all courses are taught language (including English).

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