Utrecht University

Utrecht University (UU; Dutch: Universiteit Utrecht, formerly Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht) is a university in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Established 26 March 1636, it is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands. In 2016, it had an enrolment of 29,425 students, and employed 5,568 faculty and staff.[6] In 2011, 485 PhD degrees were awarded and 7,773 scientific articles were published. The 2013 budget of the university was €765 million.[7]

Utrecht University
Universiteit Utrecht
Latin: Universitas Rheno-Traiectina
Universitas Ultraiectina
MottoSol Iustitiae Illustra Nos (Latin)
Motto in English
May the Sun of Righteousness Enlighten Us[1]
TypePublic, general
AffiliationWashington University in St. Louis McDonnell International Scholars Academy[2]
Endowment€ 765 million (2013)
RectorHenk Kummeling
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
52°05′24″N 5°07′13″E
ColoursYellow, Red and White

Utrecht University has been placed in the top 100 universities in the world by four major ranking tables. The university is rated as the best university in the Netherlands by the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities 2013, and ranked as the 13th best university in Europe and the 52nd best university of the world.

The university's motto is "Sol Iustitiae Illustra Nos," which means "Sun of Justice, shine upon us." This motto was gleaned from a literal Latin Bible translation of Malachi 4:2. (Rutgers University, having a historical connection with Utrecht University, uses a modified version of this motto.) Utrecht University is led by the University Board, consisting of prof. dr. Henk Kummeling (Rector Magnificus) and Hans Amman.


This section incorporates text translated from the Dutch Wikipedia article

Utrecht University was founded on 26 March 1636. The influential professor of theology Gisbertus Voetius delivered the inaugural speech, and Bernardus Schotanus (professor of law and mathematics) became the university's first rector magnificus. Anna Maria van Schurman, who became the university's first female student, was invited to write a Latin poem for the inauguration.[8] Initially, only a few dozen students attended classes at the university. Seven professors worked in four faculties: philosophy, which offered all students an introductory education, and three higher-level faculties (theology, medicine and law).

Utrecht University flourished in the seventeenth century, despite competition with the older universities of Leiden (1575), Franeker (1585) and Groningen (1614) and the schools of Harderwijk (1599; a university from 1648) and Amsterdam (1632). Leiden, in particular, proved a strong competitor and made further improvement necessary. A botanical garden was built on the grounds of the present Sonnenborgh Observatory, and three years later the Smeetoren added an astronomical observatory. The university attracted many students from abroad (especially from Germany, England and Scotland). They witnessed the intellectual and theological battle the proponents of the new philosophy (René Descartes lived for a few years in Utrecht) fought with the proponents of the strict Reformed theologian Voetius.

In 1806 the French occupying authorities of the Netherlands downgraded Utrecht University to an école secondaire (high school), but after the establishment of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1813 it regained its former status. Leiden, Louvain, Groningen, Utrecht and Ghent were the five universities (Dutch: hoge scholen) of the new state, and Leiden received the title of eerste hoge school ("first university"). Two of the universities (Louvain and Ghent) became part of the new Belgian state after it separated from the northern Netherlands in 1830. This left Utrecht one of only three Dutch universities.

Utrecht played a prominent role in the golden age of Dutch science. Around 1850 the "Utrechtian School" of science formed, with Pieter Harting, Gerardus J. Mulder, Christophorus H. D. Buys Ballot and Franciscus Donders among the leading scientists. They introduced the educational laboratory (onderwijslaboratorium) as a practical learning place for their students. The University is represented in the Stichting Academisch Erfgoed, a foundation with the goal of preserving university collections.

Utrecht University recently joined Washington University in St. Louis’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy.[9]


The university consists of seven faculties:[10]

There are three interfaculty units:

The two large faculties of Humanities and Law & Governance are situated in the inner city of Utrecht. The other five faculties and most of the administrative services are located in Utrecht Science Park De Uithof, a campus area on the outskirts of the city. University College Utrecht, along with the Utrecht School of Economics, are situated in the former Kromhout Kazerne, which used to be a Dutch military base. University College Roosevelt is located off-campus in the city of Middelburg in the south-west of the Netherlands.

Notable alumni and faculty

Utrecht University counts a number of distinguished scholars among its alumni and faculty, including 12 Nobel Prize laureates and 13 Spinoza Prize laureates.

International rankings

University rankings
ARWU World[12] 49 (2019)
Leiden World[13] 72 (2019)
THE World[14] 75 (2020)
USNWR World[15] 55 (2020)
QS World[16] 120 (2020)

On the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities list, the University of Utrecht was ranked 56th in the world and the highest in the Netherlands. Its ranking has declined slightly since 2003, when it was ranked 40th.

In the 2015/2016 QS World University Rankings,[17] Utrecht was ranked 94th, having improved its ranking since 2004 when it was ranked 120th.

In The Times Higher Education 2014–15 World University Rankings, the university is ranked 79th.[18]

See also


  1. "History". Utrecht University. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  2. https://global.wustl.edu/mcdonnell-academy/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. "Annual report 2014 (in Dutch)". Utrecht University. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  4. Huisstijlelementen: Kleur - website of the UU
  5. Flag (with colours) - website of the UU
  6. Utrecht University (2017) UU jaarverslag 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.uu.nl/organisatie/profiel/cijfers-en-feiten/jaarverslag
  7. "Organisation". 29 October 2014.
  8. Frade, Sofia (2016). "Ménage's Learned Ladies: Anne Dacier (1647-1720) and Anna Maria van Schurman (1607-1678)". In Wyles, Rosie; Hall, Edith (eds.). Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198725206.
  9. "McDonnell International Scholars Academy". Global. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  10. "Faculties - Organisation". Utrecht University. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  11. "Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance". Utrecht University. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  12. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019". ShanghaiRanking. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  13. "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019". Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  14. "World University Rankings 2020 - Utrecht University". Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  15. "Best Global Universities 2020". U.S. News Education (USNWR). ). Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  16. "QS World University Rankings 2020". Top Universities. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  17. "QS World University Rankings Utrecht University". Topuniversities. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  18. "World University Rankings Utrecht University". The Times Higher Education. Retrieved 27 May 2016.

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