University of Groningen

The University of Groningen (abbreviated as UG;[4] Dutch: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, abbreviated as RUG) is a public research university in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands. The university was founded in 1614 and is the second-oldest university in the Netherlands. Since its founding more than 200,000 students have graduated. In 2014 the university celebrated its 400th anniversary.[5]

University of Groningen (UG)
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)
Latin: Academia Groningana
MottoVerbum Domini Lucerna Pedibus Nostris (Latin)
Motto in English
The word of the Lord is a light for our feet
TypePublic research university
Established1614 (1614)
PresidentProf. Jouke de Vries[1]
RectorProf. Cisca Wijmenga[2]
Academic staff
5,608 employees
53°13′9″N 6°33′46″E
Colours     Groningen red[3]
AffiliationsCoimbra Group
Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities

University of Groningen has been placed in the top 100 universities in the world by four major ranking tables. The university was ranked 59th in the world, according to Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in 2017.[6] In April 2013, according to the results of the International Student Barometer, the University of Groningen, for the third time in a row, was voted the best university of the Netherlands.[7]

The University of Groningen has eleven faculties, nine graduate schools, 27 research centres and institutes, and more than 175 degree programmes. The university's alumni and faculty include four Nobel Prize winners, five Spinoza Prize winners, multiple mayors, Aletta Jacobs, Johann Bernoulli, royalty, the first president of the European Central Bank and a secretary general of NATO.[8][9][10]


The institution was founded as a college in 1614 in an initiative taken by the Regional Assembly of the city of Groningen and the Ommelanden, or surrounding region. There were four faculties – Theology, Law, Medicine, and Philosophy.[11][12][13]

The coat of arms of the university was confirmed by The Estates of the City and County of Groningen in 1615. It consists of the provincial arms, charged with an open book inscribed with the abbreviated words VER/BVM/DNI LV/CER/NA, short for Verbum Domini Lucerna Pedibus Nostris. The shield is surmounted by a golden crown of five leaves and four pearls.

The first 75 years of its existence were very fruitful for the University with about 100 students enrolling every year. Almost half of the students and lecturers came from outside the Netherlands – the first rector magnificus, Ubbo Emmius, came from East Frisia in modern-day Germany, for instance – but at the same time there was already a close relationship between the University and the city and the surrounding region.

The development of the University came to a standstill at the end of the seventeenth and during the eighteenth century because of theological differences of opinion, a difficult relationship with the Regional Assembly and political problems that included the siege of the city by Bommen Berend in 1672. On average two to three hundred students were registered with the University at any one time during this period. Petrus Camper, though, was a shining academic example during the second half of the eighteenth century and was famous far beyond the city limits as an anatomist, a fighter against rinderpest and the founder of the first outpatient’s clinic for surgical medicine.

Opportunities and threats followed each other during the nineteenth century. During the French occupation between 1775 and 1814 the University of Groningen was administrated by the Imperial University of Paris. Unlike Leiden University, it was not shut down and the institute was renamed Imperial University of Groningen (Keizerlijke Universiteit Groningen). During this time period, it remained the only open University in the Kingdom of Holland.[14] In 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, at the same time as Leiden and Utrecht, the University gained recognition as a national college of higher education, but this was followed by discussions about closure. The situation improved markedly when a new main university building, the Academiegebouw, was constructed in 1850, a building that was largely financed by the people of Groningen. This made the fire that completely destroyed this building in 1906 even more poignant.

In the meantime, the Higher Education Act of 1876 had radically improved the position of the University, which was renamed the "Rijksuniversiteit Groningen" (RUG). Teaching took place in Dutch and Latin and the University was given a research as well as an educational duty.

The University of Groningen developed apace during the first decades of the twentieth century. The number of faculties and courses grew steadily while the number of students showed an explosive growth. When the University celebrated its first 300 years in 1914 there were 611 registered students; this had already grown to 1000 by 1924. After a drop back during the Depression, and in particular during the Second World War, the number of students grew rapidly from 1945 to reach 20,000 in 1994. At the present time there are about 30,000 students registered at the University of Groningen with the number of foreign students again growing steadily, and following the tradition set by the first Rector Magnificus, the number of German students and researchers has grown strongly in recent years.

In March 2015, the RUG signed an agreement with the China Agricultural University to establish a campus in the Chinese city of Yantai. This would have made the RUG the first Dutch university to open a campus in China.[15] The plan was heavily criticised, mainly due to worries about the restriction of academic freedom caused by censorship in China.[16] In January 2018, the plans were cancelled by the Executive Board of the UG, based on the "insufficient support for the project".[17]

In 2016 the Dutch chemist Ben Feringa, who has spent most of his career at the University of Groningen, won the Nobel prize for his work on molecular motors.[18]

Facts and figures

University rankings
ARWU World[19] 65 (2019)
Leiden World[20] 96 (2019)
THE World[21] 73 (2020)
USNWR World[22] 96 (2020)
QS World[23] 114 (2020)

Key facts and figures about the University of Groningen are:[24]

  • The university, as of September 2016, has 30,000 students enrolled in various programs from the undergraduate level up to doctorate students. This includes 6000 international students, and about 6500 PhD students. Individuals from more than 120 nationalities currently study or work at the University.
  • The university currently has 5,900 individuals in its academic staff. The UMCG included, a third of the academic staff is international.
  • 400 professors (of which 100 female professors), 69 associate professors, 92 professors by special appointment (including University Medical Center Groningen, UMCG)
  • 48 bachelor's degree programmes (29 bachelor's degree programmes are taught in English)
  • 167 master's degree programmes (126 master's degree programmes are taught in English)
  • 16 research master's programmes
  • 11 faculties, 9 graduate schools
  • 120,000 alumni
  • 800 million euro annual turnover
  • 6,000 research publications
  • 160 million euro research contract
  • 22 patent applications in 2016

The University of Groningen is in the top 3 of European research universities in the fields of Ecology, Material Sciences, Chemistry and Astronomy. Other strong research groups are in Nanoscience, Physics, Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Medical Sciences, Neurosciences, Sociology, Philosophy, Theology, Archaeology and Arts.

The university operates under the BSA system, under which a first year undergraduate (bachelor) student must achieve a certain number of ECTS in order to progress to the second year. This varies from 30 ECTS to 45 ECTS among various degrees.[25]

The University of Groningen is a member of the so-called Excellence Group of the best universities in Europe. The Excellence Group has 56 members, which is 1.3 percent of the approximately 4,500 European institutions of higher education.[26]

  • The University of Groningen belongs to the top 100 large comprehensive research universities in the world.[27]
  • In 2018-2019, the University of Groningen ranked 79th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[28]
  • According to the 2019 U.S. News & World Report the Faculty of Economics and Business ranks as 3rd in The Netherlands, 10th in Europe and 32nd in the world for Economics and Business.[29]
  • The University holds a shared position 59 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in 2017-2018. ARWU is a global Top 500 published annually by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.[30] In addition to this overall score, the University falls within the global top 100 for several specific fields and subjects: Psychology (28), Clinical Medicine (51-75), Business Administration (32), Ecology (51-75) and Sociology (50). Automation and Control at the University of Groningen is number one in the Netherlands, 5th in Europe and 29th worldwide (2017).
  • The University was ranked 72nd in the world in 2016 by the National Taiwan University that publishes the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities.[31]
  • The University ranked 114th in the QS World University Rankings.[32]
  • The University holds the 14th position in the European ranking (87th worldwide) of Webometrics.[33]
  • The Faculty of Economics and Business is accredited by both AACSB and EQUIS. [34]
  • The RUG has its own newspaper: the Universiteitskrant.[35]

The university's Center for Information Technology (CIT) houses an IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer and data center of Target used by the LOFAR project as well as a Virtual Reality and 3D-visualisation center.[36]


The University of Groningen is organized in eleven faculties that offer programmes and courses in the fields of humanities, social sciences, law, economics and business, spatial sciences, life sciences, and natural sciences and technology. Each faculty (cf., College in the USA or School in Europe) is a formal grouping of academic degree programmes, schools and institutes, discipline areas, research centres, and/or any combination of these drawn together for educational purposes. Each faculty offers Bachelor's, Master's, PhD, and Exchange programmes, while some also offer short certificate courses.

Since 2014, the RUG also has a partly independent liberal arts college, University College Groningen (UCG).[37][38]

  • Faculty of Economics and Business
  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
  • Faculty of Philosophy
  • Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Faculty of Spatial Sciences
  • University College Groningen
  • Campus Fryslân


The various faculties are housed around the city. Most of the faculties- including the faculties of Law, Arts and Philosophy are located in and around the city center. The university's original building, which acts as the main administrative building, lies exactly in the center of the city at the Broerstraat. The faculty of medical sciences is located close-by at the University Medical Center Groningen(UMCG). The Faculties of Economics and Business, Spatial Sciences, and Science and Engineering are housed in the northern outskirts of the city, at the Zernike Campus, named after Nobel Prize winner Frits Zernike. The Zernike campus is also shared by the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the other big university in the city, making the total number of students studying there around 40,000.[39]

The university has libraries in three locations: the main one at the city center, one in the Duisenberg building in Zernike Campus, and one in the faculty of medicine, that includes a vast array of books and online material for students. The library at the city center also has a Starbucks on its premises. The university has also recently opened another campus in Leeuwarden, Friesland, referred to as "Campus Fryslan", that offers multiple disciplines in both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.[40]

Student life

The city of Groningen boasts a remarkable student life, and is known as the student city of the Netherlands; around one-third of the city's residents are students at either The University of Groningen or at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. The city is tailored around students, and is known to be very welcoming. The university, through ACLO[41] offers a wide range of sporting activities, and courses. Almost each sport has its own association, and offers the use of its facilities at discount rates for students.[42]

The university, also has multiple student societies that organize social events for its members, as well as student and study associations, that are mostly concerned with specific faculties and courses.

The use of bicycles as the means for transport is particularly prevalent for locals and students alike, and has integrated, labelled bike paths from the city center to Zernike. The city is popularly referred to as "The World Cycling City" because of this.[43]

Student housing

The University of Groningen, much like most universities in Europe, does not have student accommodation themselves. It does, however, offer students with accommodation via SSH Student Housing- which operates student houses in various locations in Groningen, and various other cities within the Netherlands. [44] A significant number of students live in private accommodations within the city, however. A recent addition to the housing options for students is The Student Hotel as well. The Dutch government has strict laws for private accommodations for both tenants (students) and the landlords, so that fair rent prices, and renting conditions can be maintained.[45]

In 2018, the university received national attention due to the housing crisis in the city of Groningen. Due to the fact that most incoming students at the university are primarily from other parts of the country, or the world, there has been a lack of housing options for students.[46]


Research schools, centres and institutes

Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Center for Language and Cognition Groningen (CLCG)
  • Globalisation Studies Groningen (GSG)
  • Centre for Religious Studies (CRS)
  • Groningen Institute of Archeology (GIA)
  • Groningen Institute for Educational research (GION)
  • Groningen Research Institute of Philosophy (GRIPH)
  • Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG)
  • Heymans Institute
  • Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS)
  • Urban and Regional Studies Institute (URSI)


  • Centre for Law, Administration and Society (CRBS)
  • Groningen Centre of Energy Law (GCEL)

Economics & Business

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (EEF)
  • Global Economics and Management (GEM)
  • Human Resource Management & Organisational Behaviour (HRM-OB)
  • Innovation & Organization (IO)
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management & Operations Research (OPERA)

Life Sciences

  • Research School of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCN) / UMCG[47]
  • Research Institute BCN-BRAIN / UMCG[48]
  • Cancer Research Center Groningen (CRCG) / UMCG[49]
  • Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES)[50]
    • Behavioural & Physiological Ecology [51]
    • Conservation Ecology Group [52]
    • Theoretical Research in Evolutionary Life Sciences [53]
    • Evolutionary Genetics, Development & Behaviour [54]
    • Genomics Research in Ecology & Evolution in Nature [55]
    • Neurobiology [56]
  • Groningen University Institute for Drug Exploration (GUIDE) / UMCG[57]
  • Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology (GBB)
  • Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy (GRIP)
  • Science in Healthy Ageing and healthcaRE (SHARE), UMCG[58]
  • W.J. Kolff Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science / UMCG[59]

Science & Technology

Graduate schools

The University of Groningen’s Graduate Schools are organized somewhat different from its international counterparts.[62] The main difference is that the Graduate Schools do not contain all Master’s programmes; Graduate Schools manage and facilitate the two-year Master's programmes: top master's degree programmes and Research master's degree programmes.

  • Graduate School of Behavioural and Social Sciences
  • Graduate School of Economics and Business
  • Graduate School of Humanities
  • Graduate School of Law
  • Graduate School of Medical Sciences
  • Graduate School of Philosophy
  • Graduate School of Science
  • Graduate School of Spatial Sciences
  • Graduate School of Theology and Religious Studies

Notable alumni

Notable alumni of the University of Groningen include:[63]

Notable researchers

See also


  1. "" (Press release University of Groningen)
  2. "" (Press release University of Groningen)
  3. "Principal colour". University of Groningen. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  4. "Rug wordt 'joedzjie'". Universiteitskrant. Archived from the original on 27 April 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  5. University of Groningen turns 400! (website)
  6. "University of Groningen | Academic Ranking of World Universities - 2017 | Shanghai Ranking - 2017". Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  7. International Student Barometer: University of Groningen nr. 1 in the Netherlands! (Press release)
  8. "Prominent Professors | History | University Museum | Public outreach | Society/Business | University of Groningen". Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  9. "Awards and medals | Facts and figures | Our position | About us | University of Groningen". Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  10. "Spinoza Prize winners 1996-2015 | NWO Spinoza Prize | Top researchers | Leading research | Research | University of Groningen". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  11. "Groningen, University of". 22 March 2011.
  12. "University of Groningen: Facts & Figures".
  13. "Article in U.S. News & World Report; accessed on 11 July 2017".
  15. "RUG: Yantai van de baan". Thereza Langeler, Rob Siebelink. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  16. "De China-plannen van Rijksuniversiteit Groningen". NOS. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  17. "Rijksuniversiteit Groningen blaast plan Chinees filiaal af". NOS. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  18. "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016".
  19. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019". ShanghaiRanking. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  20. "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019". ). Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  21. "World University Rankings 2020 - University of Groningen". Times Higher Education (THE). 18 September 2019.
  22. "U.S. News Education: Best Global Universities 2019".
  23. "QS World University Rankings 2020". Top Universities. 15 July 2019.
  24. "Key figures". Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  25. "Binding study advice (BSA) | Studying at the University | Find out more | Education | University of Groningen". Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  26. "CHE ranking (2010)". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  27. "Internationale positie". Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  28. "University of Groningen World University Rankings | THE". The Times Higher Educational Supplement. 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  29. Global University Rankings, retrieved 4 April 2015
  30. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017". Shanghai Jiao Tong University. 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  31. "2016 - Overall ranking". Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  32. "University of Groningen". Top Universities. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  33. "Europe". Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  34. "Accreditation, assessment and embedding - Organisatie / FEB - FEB - Over ons - Rijksuniversiteit Groningen".
  35. "UKrant". UK. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  36. "The Cave". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  37. "Op University College geen zesjesstudenten". De Volkskrant. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  38. "BA/BSc Liberal Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  39. "Zernike Campus". Groningen - City of Talent. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  40. "Faculties | Our organization | About us | University of Groningen". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  42. "Sports associations | Extracurricular activities and associations | Student life | Find out more | Education | University of Groningen". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  43. Zee, Renate van der (29 July 2015). "How Groningen invented a cycling template for cities all over the world". the Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  44. "SSH student housing | Rooms and apartments for students". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  45. "Housing rights & Tenant's duties - Housing in Groningen". Housing in Groningen (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  46. "The Student Housing Nightmare". The Dutch Review. 11 June 2018. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  47. Research School of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCN), University of Groningen.
  48. Research Institute BCN-BRAIN, University of Groningen.
  49. Cancer Research Center Groningen (CRCG), University of Groningen.
  50. Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), University of Groningen.
  57. Groningen University Institute for Drug Exploration (GUIDE), University of Groningen.
  58. Research Institute SHARE, University of Groningen.
  59. W.J. Kolff Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Groningen.
  60. "institute for Artificial Intelligence & Cognitive Engineering". Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  61. "The Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  62. "PhD programma's". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  63. "Prominente Groningse hoogleraren". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  64. Klaas Knot wordt nieuwe president van DNB

Further reading

  • (in Dutch) Klaas van Berkel: Universiteit van het Noorden. Vier eeuwen academisch leven in Groningen. Part 1 De oude universiteit 1614-1876. Hilversum, Verloren, 2014. ISBN 978-90-8704-466-4
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