Utrecht University

Utrecht University (UU; 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. In 2011, 485 PhD degrees were awarded and 7,773 scientific articles were published. The 2013 budget of the university was €765 million.

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

The university's motto is "Sol Iustitiae Illustra Nos," which means "May the Sun of Righteousness Enlighten 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), prof. dr. Anton Pijpers (Chair) and prof. mr. Annetje Ottow (Vice Chair).


: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. 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 ( 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.


The university consists of seven faculties:
  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Department of History and Art History
  • Department of Languages, Literature and Communication
  • Department of Media and Culture Studies
  • Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
  • Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
  • Department of Education and Pedagogy
  • Department of Social Sciences
  • Department of Psychology
  • Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance
  • Utrecht University School of Economics (USE)
  • Utrecht University School of Law
  • Utrecht University School of Governance (USG)
  • Faculty of Geosciences
  • Department of Earth Sciences
  • Department of Physical Geography
  • Department of Sustainable Development (Copernicus Institute)
  • Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
  • Faculty of Science
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Information and Computing Sciences
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Department of Physics and Astronomy There are three interfaculty units:
  • University College Utrecht
  • University College Roosevelt
  • COLUU Centre for Education and Learning

    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.

    Image:De_Uithof_(nouveau_campus_de_l'Université_d'Utrecht).JPG |The Science Park (Utrecht University modern campus) Image:University_College_Utrecht_(Entrance).JPG|University College Utrecht Image:University_College_Utrecht.JPG |University College Utrecht Image:Juridische_Bibliotheek_(Bibliothèque_de_Droit_et_d'Economie).JPG| Juridische Bibliotheek (The Former Law Library, now located at Drift 27) Image:Vie_étudiante_à_Utrecht.JPG | Student life in Utrecht

    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

    On the 2019 Academic Ranking of World Universities list, the University of Utrecht was ranked 49th 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, Utrecht was ranked 94th, having improved its ranking since 2004 when it was ranked 120th.

    In The Times Higher Education 2020 World University Rankings, the university is ranked 75th.