Utrecht University was established in 1636 and is a leading comprehensive research university. On the Shanghai Ranking, Utrecht University has held the highest Dutch position for 14 years (2016: 22nd in Europe and 65th worldwide). It has over 30,000 students and 6,000 staff. Utrecht University educates tomorrow’s leaders and offers high-quality, innovative education. It is at the forefront of educational innovation and introduced Teaching Qualifications and Liberal Arts & Sciences colleges to the Netherlands.
Utrecht University believes that good teaching engages the students, is personal and, whenever possible, small-scale, so that students are challenged to realise their full potential. For this it is important that authentic tasks are given that teach students to work with knowledge, insight and academic skills. Good teaching provides interim feedback to ensure students stay on track and perform to the best of their ability. Good Teaching is coherent: learning objectives, testing, assignments, feedback and educational methods are consistent with the course level and continue the line from the students’ required entry level to the objectives and overall learning outcomes of the curriculum. Their philosophy is that effective learning requires an atmosphere of mutual commitment : students and lecturers are not on opposite sides, but rather cooperate to achieve the same goals in an academic learning community.
Good teaching is provided by highly qualified lecturers who are given opportunities to improve and innovate their teaching. All academics with a tenured contract must obtain the Standard Teaching Qualification (STQ) as proof of their pedagogic competence. For this, academics are trained in the Educational Model and the latest educational innovations. Utrecht University was the first Dutch university to implement the STQ in 1995. All Dutch universities have now adopted this framework and the STQ has been mutually recognised among Dutch universities since 2008. All associate and full professors must obtain the Advanced Teaching Qualification (ATQ). This prepares academics for a senior role in teaching: they have a clear vision on education, they improve teaching in their educational programme, and they are involved with innovations at the curriculum level.
Visionary educational leaders are needed to inspire academics to provide teaching excellence. Utrecht University has therefore offered the Educational Leadership Programme since 1999 to stimulate leadership and innovation in education.
“This nomination is an important recognition of our strong commitment towards excellent education and teaching. Improving our educational philosophy and practice is our top priority, because we believe now is the time to better prepare our students for the world of today and tomorrow.”
Bert van der Zwaan, Rector magnificus