Masters in the Netherlands is our section on education in the Netherlands, focusing on master’s studies. Here we will explore the system of postgraduate studies in the Netherlands through interviews with current and former students. The organization of the system and the content are very different from those in Spain. The interviews are conducted by the Head of Dissemination and Events of our association, Miriam Guillén Navarro, who is herself an alumnus of one of these master’s and, therefore, well aware of the wide range of postgraduate training available in this country.
Today Miriam interviews Raquel Ledo, a biotechnologist from Galicia who has been doing her master’s degree in the Netherlands since last year.
Name: Raquel Ledo Doval
Home city: Chantada (Lugo)
Previous studies: Biotechnology
Current work/study: Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences (Master)
Topic: Plant Microbe Interactions
Question: Why did you choose to study a master’s degree in the Netherlands?
Answer: Because of the importance of the English language in the scientific field, I decided to study my master’s degree abroad in order to improve in this discipline. Furthermore, I think that the quality of the master’s program offered here is very good compared to other European countries.
Q: How is the master’s degree organized? Can you highlight differences with a typical master’s degree in Spain?
A: My master’s degree is based on two parts, one practical and one academic, with the practical part occupying a much larger portion than the theoretical one, in terms of number of credits and time spent.
The program is structured as follows: a 9-month laboratory stay, in which the student chooses the topic they want to address and organizes his/her project. On the other hand, we have a second, shorter stay of 4 months, which can either be done in another laboratory or in a company in the scientific field.
Regarding the theoretical part, the program requires to carry out a series of courses, which can be combined or not with the laboratory periods. The offer of courses is very diverse and there are different options that we can combine and adapt in our own calendar.
What I like about this program is that, unlike the Spanish ones, they offer a wide variety of resources and topics that you can choose and organize yourself as you wish. On the other hand, the long stay in two different laboratories/entities is a great advantage for me, as they help a lot to develop the practical skills that I will use in my future work.
Q: Do you think the offer of optional courses is enough? Is it limited to what the university offers?
A: Yes, I think it is enough. In general, I can choose courses within and outside my own program, which I consider to be a very interesting option, as it promotes the multidisciplinary nature of the course.
Q: What would you highlight about this master compared to a similar one you could have done in Spain?
A: The good organization of the course, the flexibility it allows me in my schedules and the language.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience in a Dutch laboratory?
A: The environment in which I am working so far in the laboratory is very pleasant and enjoyable. The way we organize our work, exhibitions, group meetings, etc. I find it very good, helping to promote communication and sharing opinions and results. In addition, the quality of the research is outstanding, although I don’t think it has anything to envy from the Spanish one either.
In general, as a master’s student, I consider that the atmosphere and opportunities that this laboratory gives me are relevant since it allows me to carry out my own project, always being valued in a very unilateral way with the rest of my master’s and doctorate colleagues. For this reason, I consider that the environment is very supportive when carrying out the experiments and the project in general.
Q: Would you recommend the master to other students with the same type of training?
A: Yes, definitely.
Q: What has the master’s degree brought you on a personal level?
A: Professional maturity and capacity for self-organization.
Q: What are your plans now, continuing your training or starting out in the job market?
A: I am still not sure if I will choose to do my PhD or if I would like to try the biotech industry first.
Q: Are you considering returning to Spain?
A: I would like to. If I were to do a doctorate I would stay here, as I consider the job conditions to be much better compared to those of a Spanish doctorate student. I don’t rule out the idea of returning to Spain if my choice is the biotech industry.
TRANSLATION: NOELIA MUÑOZ MARTÍN