PhD Council


Aside from schools and conferences, there are some more structured programmes to help you in your endeavours. Of these, the NWO-I course Taking Charge of your PhD Project is obligatory.

Master Courses

If you cannot get enough of university courses, there are some master classes of the UvA and VU you can follow. These do not replace other obligations such as the topical lectures or graduate schools.

NWO-I Courses

NWO-I provides a series of training courses especially for PhD students that ranges from writing courses to career planning. Many of these last only two days, but others can take up to a week to complete. Of these courses, the course Taking Charge of your PhD Project is obligatory for all PhD students. The full list of NWO-I courses can be found here.

Personal coaching is also provided by NWO-I. These individual coaching programmes are intended to support professional and personal development. If you are interested in personal coaching, contact Ed van Willigen of the Nikhef HR department.

Language Courses

As a foreigner working at Nikhef and living in the Netherlands, you have probably noticed that language is not a big issue if you have a decent understanding of English. People are often glad to switch to English whenever a non-native speaker joins the conversation (to great frustration of those who want to learn Dutch). However, learning a little bit of Dutch can go a long way in participating in Dutch society. You will be able to understand traffic signs, your coworkers at lunch and the Albert Heijn cashier, to name a few. The Dutch language is very close to other Germanic languages such as German and Danish, and it has many similarities to English as well. Speakers of these languages may therefore already have an advantage in interpreting Dutch words.

Learning some Dutch is very accessible these days. Arguably the most effective learning method is to take actual language courses. The Dutch Welcome Course introduces these and gives information on how to join them, but you can also contact someone of the HR department if you would like to participate in a Dutch course. Other than that, there are many free and paid courses you can take online. Duolingo and Memrise are both free and amazing (with paid features), and Rosetta Stone is a more professional and expensive language learning tool.

There are several possibilities regarding the reimbursement of Dutch language courses. Nikhef PhD candidates employed by NWO-I can request reimbursement of the Dutch language courses except in the case of candidates who have been granted the 30% tax exemption. In the case that you are employed by NWO-I and have received the tax exemption it will depend on the local policies of the university partner from which you will be graduating.

Some partner universities will refund the costs of Dutch language courses for PhD candidates. The following universities have options to reimburse the Dutch language course:

  • The UvA/IoP reimburses the costs of Dutch language courses for their PhD candidates.
  • The VU Amsterdam has the option to reimburse Dutch language courses upon the availability of group/departmental funds. This option requires the approval of the section head.
  • Dutch language courses are reimbursed by the MU provided group funds are available. This option needs approval by the corresponding budget holder.
  • The UU reimburses the costs of Dutch language courses for all their PhD candidates.
  • The RUG fully reimburses the costs of Dutch language courses for PhD candidates without the 30% tax ruling, and partly (50%) for PhD candidates granted the 30% tax ruling.

In some cases reimbursement is dependent on the type of language course that the candidate would like to follow. Many universities require the language course to be offered by the local language service, like VU-NT2 at the VU in Amsterdam. You should discuss the types of language courses available with their supervisor and/or (partner) university.