The Netherlands and its lack of discounts in the culture sector
Coming to the Netherlands as a student, I immediately wanted to immerse myself in the country’s culture. Dutch Duolingo? Check. Sign up for the municipality’s newsletter? Check. Get an OV-Chipkaart and go to nearby cities? Check. Go to some of the best museums? Not so much.
It did not take long to notice that Dutch museums do not offer many discounts for University students. Some provide a small reduction from the Adult fare, while others have nothing at all. This was pretty shocking after having travelled to other European countries which have significant discounts for university students, and in some such as France, all youths under the age of 26 enter state-owned cultural venues for free.
The reason for the Netherlands’ lack of cultural discounts is puzzling. Some would be quick to point out that some sections of culture are more prioritised for funding than others, such as open-air festivals that are free to enter. Even these, however, have been threatened, such as The Hague’s Parkpop festival which was cancelled this year due to lack of funding. Others might say there is not one big cultural interest in the Netherlands. Interests can vary from music to art or history, or larger cultural activities such as festivals, so subsidies are extremely spread out and do not impact ticket prices significantly.
In The Hague, most museums will make you pay. The Mauritshuis, a fine arts museum that hosts The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, provides a discount for university students; however, it is not significant. Madurodam, the open-air museum which showcases the Netherlands in miniature does not have a student fare at all. Others tend to fall into one of these two categories, unfortunately.
So what can you do?
Thanks to The Hague’s cultural diversity, it hosts a plethora of cultural events, which vary in price but sometimes are free of cost. The easiest way to keep track of these is by visiting the municipality’s website. Additionally, keep an eye on organisations or places you would like to visit, in case they host an open day or other special occasions with discounted prices. Something to really look out for as International Relations enthusiasts is the Just Peace Month organised by The Hague Humanity Hub. For an entire month, you can participate in events focused on international issues, enjoy free entrance to venues, and attend free film screenings. If you are a big fan of museums, then get your hands on the ‘Museumkaart,’ which offers ‘free’ access to more than 500 museums across the country for a one-time fee of around 65€. Finally, there is also a European Youth Card which provides a discount for tons of things, including cultural activities, and this can be purchased for 14€.
My biggest advice? Be on the lookout for anything which may provide a discount!
For more recommendations and practical student tips, check out the First Aid Kit on our CIROS website, dedicated to making your university life more comfortable.