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Utrecht University
08/05/2012 | Utrecht University


New Strategic Plan for Utrecht University

The University has completed its new Strategic Plan for 2012-2016. The plan represents an elaboration of the University profile announced last December, and sets out the course of the University over the next few years. Which activities are we going to invest in and which activities should be phased out? How are we going to further enhance the quality of teaching? Are there any more effective strategies to make our knowledge available to society? What are the most efficient and effective ways to structure support?

Strategic Plan 2012-2016 (pdf)


Utrecht University attracts high scores in various national and international rankings. We aim to continue investing in quality in the years ahead. This reflects, on the one hand, our intention to set ambitious goals and, on the other, the need for us to introduce efficiencies where possible, for instance by organising our work differently or ensuring more effective support.


  • focus on matching and selection for all first-year students;
  • reduce student drop-out rate to 15% by 2016 (currently 18%);
  • increase study success rate (after four years of study) to 77% by 2016 (currently 74%, already the highest in the Netherlands);
  • increase enrolment in honour’s programmes to 12% by 2016 (currently 9%).

Every year the University will reserve 2 million euros from allocated resources to strengthen education (BaMa3.0). The University will also set up an innovation fund to support departments and lecturers in implementing innovation in their study programmes. In addition, the effort invested by a study programme before student enrolment will create time efficiencies after enrolment in the form of a lower drop-out rate and more motivated students. This will in turn reduce the work pressure experienced by lecturers.


  • opt for a focus on four strategic themes: Life Sciences, Sustainability, Institutions and Youth & Identity;
  • aim for a 10% rise in the number of research groups that attract the highest score in the 2020 SEP research assessment.

Every year the University will invest 12 million euros from allocated resources to strengthen research within the four strategic themes and research focus areas. In addition, the University will invest in national and international partnerships and establish a long-range programme for investment in equipment.

Knowledge valorisation

  • spend at least 2.5% of the government grant on knowledge valorisation by 2016;
  • further strengthen the Utrecht Science Park.

The University intends to highlight its contribution to society more effectively. To that end, 10% of resources earmarked for the strategic themes and research focus areas will be reserved for valorisation activities. In addition, the faculty research support offices will be strengthened.


The University will continue to promote effective support; this does not necessarily involve reducing the quantity of support, but improving its quality;

  • continued standardisation, for example in faculty or programme administration and HR records.

Integrating sustainability into University operations is another major objective, to be achieved by, for example, applying sustainability as a criterion in:

  • calls for tenders and purchasing;
  • redevelopment or new construction projects.

Performance agreements

The Strategic Plan underpins the performance agreements that Utrecht University will enter into with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science within the framework of the outline agreement between the Ministry and the VSNU (Association of Universities in the Netherlands). The performance agreements are part of the Strategic Plan. The funding depends in part on the extent to which the agreed performance levels are attained. The University and the State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science will sign the performance agreements in September.

Also see the previous announcement (Dutch) on the Strategic Plan and the performance agreements.

Broad involvement

The Strategic Plan was prepared in collaboration with the entire University community: more than five hundred students, employees, external stakeholders and other interested parties took part in meetings to discuss the University’s targets and lines of action, thus contributing to the development of Utrecht University’s desired strategic course. This course has the full support of the University Council and the Supervisory Board. The next step is to formulate the ambitions and lines of action in further detail; this will be done in close consultation with faculties and service departments.


If you have any questions or comments in connection with the Strategic Plan for 2012-2016, please contact your Dean and Director. Alternatively, you can send an email to Joop Kessels (, General Director of UBD, or Leon van de Zande (, Education and Research Director.