From academic staff (WP) and support staff (OBP) to… colleagues

During the opening of the academic year, Anton Pijpers announced that Utrecht University will no longer use two separate categories to distinguish between two groups of employees: scientific staff (WP) and support and administrative staff (OBP). Until now, these two abbreviations have commonly been used in all kinds of (internal) communication. What will we call each other from now on? 'University staff', or simply 'colleagues' of course.

Recognition and Rewards

The Executive Board's decision is part of a culture change that is called Recognition and Rewards. Together we are working towards a culture in which the team and collaboration have a crucial role. Distinguishing between two separate categories of colleagues no longer fits into this vision. After all, with an open mind and open attitude, we are working together to create a better world. This goes for lecturers and researchers, but also for policy officers and the management assistants: everyone's contribution counts.

What will UU staff notice?

Letting go of the distinction WP-OBP does not mean that positions such as assistant professor or policy advisor will disappear. All positions will continue to exist. What will disappear are the terms WP and OBP. The coming period the university will explore what adjustments are needed to bring this into practice treat all UU employees more as one group as much as possible.

Culture change

This decision is another step in a culture change that revolves around recognizing and rewarding everyone's contribution to our shared goals and our way of working. The university wants to encourage teams to talk to each other more often about their common goals and what each person's role is in reaching those goals. No one has to know or do everything. There is room for different talents and different contributions. For example, this may create more room for a PhD candidate to work on public engagement. It also creates more room to consider the expertise of colleagues, independent of formal job titles. Think of a data specialist who collaborates on scientific publications or a valorization officer who also teaches.  


This culture change does not happen by itself. Managers play an important role here. The Recognition and Rewards program therefore offers these colleagues additional support in the form of workshops, tools and an intranet environment.

Watch how Professor Naomi Ellemers and her team put Recognition and Rewards into practice

National developments

All Dutch universities are working on Recognition and Rewards. The movement began in 2019 as a culture change aimed at scientists. Less emphasis on numbers of publications, more emphasis on the other fields in which scientists also work, such as public engagement. This broader form of Recognition and Rewards also fits with what society is asking of us.

For Utrecht University, it soon became clear that this culture change can only be successful if the entire university is part of it. Therefore, a new version of the Recognition and Rewards vision was created that applies to all employees.  

Read more about Recognition and Rewards
Are you UU-employee? Read more about Recognition and Rewards on intranet