The turning point in my professional development was the visit to the international forum, which brought together very talented guys from all over Russia. There I met students who were doing their Masters in the Netherlands using scholarship support. Until that moment, I had never considered the Netherlands for myself as a country of study – like many others, I first of all looked at the UK and the USA when I thought about international education.
The second “sign” for me was participation in the moot court – the legal competition named after F.Jessup ( the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition ), which simulates the consideration of a case in a state or international court. To prepare for the competition, I had to read textbooks on law in English, cases and documents from international bodies. Success awaited our team – we were invited to the international round in Washington (USA), where we competed with guys from all over the world. So I realized that there are many opportunities for studying and developing abroad. Arriving in Russia, I decided to study the topic of foreign education in detail.
The issue of scholarships became a priority: I could not afford to study abroad at full cost, so it was essential to find a suitable option. At the same time, I did not want to sacrifice the prestige of the program and diploma. So my strategy was very simple: make a list of the top universities that have human rights programs, and then check to see if they have full scholarships. As a result, I applied to 4 universities: the British University of Leeds, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Birmingham, as well as Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
The most famous and popular international rankings today are QS World Ranking , The Times Education and Shanghai Ranking ( ARWU ). However, I do not advise you to choose a university based only on its place in the overall ranking – it is better to study the rankings based on the intended specialty. For example, the University of Leeds was well above the University of Maastricht in the overall rankings (127 vs. 200). However, in the rankings of legal specialties, Maastricht turned out to be much higher than any of the listed universities in the UK (89th place for Leeds against 23rd place for Maastricht). In 2021, Maastricht was ranked 23rd in the world in the ranking of legal programs, making it one of the best in this field.
Maastricht University is a public university located in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Founded on January 9, 1976, it is the second youngest Dutch university. In addition, Maastricht University is the most international university in the Netherlands. Most Master’s programs are presented in English. The university is known for its innovative education system and method of problem-based learning, an interdisciplinary approach to research and education.
Problem-based learning in the Netherlands is that the teacher is a facilitator: he (a) organizes the process and discussion, and the students lead it. This approach helps to establish a dialogue, listen to different points of view and get to know your fellow students. In addition, the learning process includes a lot of group work and presentation of projects.
The Maastricht University (UM) Holland-High Potential Scholarship offers 24 full scholarships to talented non-European Union Masters students. The amount of the scholarship is 29,000 euros. This amount includes tuition fees, monthly maintenance, visa fees and insurance. The scholarship consists of two parts: the High Potential Scholarship itself and the Holland Scholarship. In the year I applied, I had to write two motivational letters and address them to two different scholarship committees. At the moment, this requirement has been abolished, applicants need to write only one letter of motivation.
Be careful: The Maastricht University (UM) Holland-High Potential Scholarship does not cover all programs of the University. A list of participating programs is posted annually on the website. This year’s list can be found here .
The scholarship has two limitations:
- age – not older than 35 years at the time of the start of training,
- lack of experience of studying in the Netherlands (before applying, you should not have studied undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate programs of Dutch universities).
The Maastricht University (UM) Holland-High Potential Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship that is awarded based on your merit. Moreover, it belongs to the Excellence type : your academic results and achievements during your studies at the university are extremely important for the scholarship fund.
The scholarship offers the following options to prove academic excellence:
- attach your transcript to the diploma or an extract from the record book, which already indicates your average score, rating among other students or the rating of the diploma itself (for example, if you have a red diploma or diploma with honors, first class honors, etc.).
- provide a certificate from the university/dean’s office stating that you are one of the top 20 students in your program.
As you can see, this scholarship requires formal and official confirmation of academic excellence. Due to the fact that many Russian universities do not keep student ratings, and also do not include information about the average score in the diploma supplement, not all students can apply. In my case, I had a red diploma, and therefore, I passed as “the holder of an analogue of the first class honors diploma (red diploma)”. It is worth noting that the requirements are quite strict, compared, for example, with the Utrecht Excellence Scholarships (Netherlands), which allows you to confirm academic excellence with a letter of recommendation from university teachers or staff.
Many are interested in whether the monthly maintenance is enough for life. Yes, enough for everything you need – paying for housing (the main item of expenditure), buying a bicycle, books, food, and even going to the movies and cafes. By the way, you need to start looking for housing in advance in order to find something at an affordable price and in a suitable location.
Of my 950 euros a month, about half I spent on paying for a small room in the house, almost 100 euros a month for books and Dutch lessons, the rest for food and travel. Maastricht is a great location for traveling, because the city is located on the border with Belgium and Germany. Every evening my friends and I went for a run and ran to Belgium, this is only possible in Europe!
You need to collect and submit the following package of documents:
- Application form, which contains your personal data;
- CV (no more than 2 pages), including information about education, work experience and academic activities;
- Motivation letter (no more than 1 page) – be careful, your letter must be written directly for UM Holland-High Potential S cholarship . The Committee warns that the submission of a general motivation letter may result in the denial of a scholarship. The letter should address questions: why is the scholarship important to you, why should you be chosen, how do you see yourself as a scholarship ambassador, etc.
- Confirmation of academic excellence (application or certificate);
- Contact details of the recommender (work phone, university or work mail, status). The scholarship itself has prepared tips for writing letters of recommendation, these can be found on the scholarship website .
Deadline for submission of documents: February 1, 2022.
Do not forget that the scholarship is awarded only to those who were enrolled in the master’s program, so be careful when submitting documents to the program to get a student id number.
Usually, applying to the program consists of providing: CV, motivation letter, letters of recommendation, language certificate, as well as a number of additional documents (an example of your letter in English, an undergraduate course program, etc.).
Studying in the Netherlands starts on September 1st. Master’s degree can be one-year and two-year. In Maastricht, the academic year is divided into 6 periods: each usually has 2-4 subjects, after which it is necessary to take exams. The study consists of lectures and seminars. Seminars are held in small groups of 8-12 people. On my Law and Globalization: Human Rights program, there were 3 compulsory subjects, the rest were optional. Learning isn’t just about courses: you can replace some of them with internships, moot courts, or project work to diversify your learning experience.
Many people neglect internships, as finding them and planning their passage is an additional task. The university helps in finding an internship only indirectly: professors can advise organizations or give contacts of employees, the career department can help with a list of organizations and advice on writing a CV and cover letter. An important point is that international lawyers usually train in specific international organizations: the UN, the WTO, the ECtHR, so it is extremely important to be selected for an internship in them.
Financing internships is a separate issue. Most, for example, legal internships are unpaid (every year students sign petitions for the UN to introduce more paid internships). However, if you receive a UM Holland-High Potential Scholarship, then you don’t have to worry about money. The scholarship is not suspended for the duration of the internship.
The university provides many interesting opportunities for students: additional training programs, clubs and associations of interest, sports clubs (The University Sport Center offers different sections: from regatta to golf). Maastricht has an excellent library equipped with a rich catalog of contemporary books and articles.
Faculty of Law lecturers work in international courts and tribunals (after all, many of them are located in the Netherlands), so in the classroom you can delve into the practical elements of international disputes, get an analysis of the latest developments in the field of international law. We once had lectures on the law of the sea and international humanitarian law at the Pathe cinema because there were no free auditoriums. It was a very interesting experience.Immediately upon receipt, I received an email inviting me to apply for the Honors Research Program, a supplementary research program. The program was created to help students who want to learn how to conduct research and prepare for graduate studies. I applied, having passed the selection on the basis of documents and interviews. Therefore, I had to study in two programs in parallel, which was quite difficult, but I received two diplomas.
After finishing my studies in the Netherlands, I did research on women’s rights and migration in Sweden, defended my PhD at Kazan Federal University using my knowledge of methodology gained in Maastricht, and received two job offers in the field of human rights in Sweden and the USA. I am sure that the status and ranking of the University of Maastricht helped me in this.
After receiving a degree in the Netherlands, you can apply for a special visa – to look for work. It may be called differently in different countries, for example, search year visa, orientation year visa, visa for highly educated migrants seeking employment, jobseeker visa.In the Netherlands, this is zoekjaar. The country provides the most pleasant conditions for obtaining such a visa. Firstly, you can apply for a visa within 3 years from the date of graduation. That’s exactly what I did: I received a master’s degree in 2017, and applied for a visa only in 2020. Secondly, the Netherlands does not require a bank statement to obtain a visa. Many countries ask for a guarantee that you will be able to provide for yourself during the specified period. Often the amounts are rather big, in Europe it is about 10-11 thousand euros. Therefore, the requirement of the Netherlands opens up opportunities for more guys. Thirdly, even those who have not studied in the Netherlands are allowed to apply for zoekjaar: the opportunity is available to everyone who graduated from a master’s program at one of the top 200 universities in three rankings. The procedure will be a little more difficult and longer, since your diploma will still need to be assessed. But, in general, nothing complicated! This requirement makes it possible to apply for this type of visa even to graduates from Russian universities, for example, graduates of Moscow State University. M.V. Lomonosov (at the time of writing, Moscow State University is in the top 200 universities in the rankingThe Times education ).
With a zoekjaar, you can look for and get any job in the Netherlands, regardless of your specialty, for one year. If you find a job, you can change your visa to a highly skilled migrant. I know a lot of guys who studied in Sweden, Great Britain, Italy, Belgium, and then came to the Netherlands to look for work.
I also got a visa to look for a job in the Netherlands and now I live in Amsterdam, working on my own project and thinking about registering it here.
In general, the Netherlands is a very comfortable country to live and work in. Most of the inhabitants speak English, many professions do not require the study of the Dutch language. Large cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam provide an opportunity to be in an international and intercultural community and find friends from all over the world.
- Take responsibility for writing a motivation letter. Carefully read the requirements for it – they have clues in which direction to lead the story. The questions that the commission invites you to address in the letter (why is the scholarship important to you, why should you be chosen, how do you see yourself as a scholarship ambassador) indicate that they are interested in your career and scientific goals, intentions, opportunities to carry values and the principles of scholarship and university in the future.
- Check if you need to send documents by mail. If yes, then plan your filing wisely. It will be quite a shame if you do not receive the coveted offer due to the fact that your documents simply did not fall into the hands of the selection committee.
- Pay attention to the name of the scholarship and its key characteristic – “potential”. Try to talk about why you deserve this scholarship and how you will spend the knowledge that you will receive thanks to it.
- Remember deadlines! The deadline for applying for the scholarship is February 1st. You must be enrolled in the program by this date. Usually, Maastricht University decides on admission fairly quickly, but it is advisable to lay down 6-8 weeks so as not to worry. Also take into account the time for sending documents by mail. Smart planning will save you a lot of time and even money.
I’ll tell you my example: the documents needed to be duplicated by mail, but I didn’t notice this and realized it only 3 days before the deadline. I had to be nervous and send everything by expensive courier mail.
- Never send the same motivation letter for both the program and the scholarship. The specificity of the scholarship is that, after collecting all applications for scholarships, the selection committee again sends them to your faculty, which then selects its top 5 best candidates. So your motivational letters can end up in the hands of the same people. Do not miss the chance to show your candidacy from a new side.